I spoke at 2 events last week and was struck by how much dialogue/questions arose once I introduced the concept of emotional hangovers. What is an emotional hangover? Think of a traditional hangover after a night of drinking – the next day, we feel a headache, we are dehydrated, and we are tired. It is not a stretch to assume that our ability to perform at our best during this hangover period is compromised.
Now juxtapose this with an emotional hangover. Some negative experience has occurred in the broad spectrum of negative experiences — from a negative experience such as your pen not working this morning (a relatively minor event) to something more traumatic as the death of a loved one. Clearly, some negative experiences have more impact than others, but ALL change the composition of our chemical/physiological construct. The emotional condition you feel after this negative experience is what I am calling an emotional hangover. Similar to a traditional hangover, our ability to perform our best is compromised during an emotional hangover. The challenge with the latter is that the symptoms are not as dramatic, and not as noticeable, as with a traditional hangover. In an emotional hangover, symptoms include lack of focus, anxiety, tension in the body, and the like. Some negative experiences are so powerful (i.e., emotional abuse as a child) that the emotional hangover can last a lifetime (i.e., Post Traumatic Stress Disorders).
This week I wanted to draw your attention to your emotional hangovers. How many of these do you have each day? Have many do you have from last week, last year, or ten years ago? Do you honestly believe that you are at your best in this state? While most of us are certainly functional during an emotional hangover … we are not at our best. This baggage we carry, like a traditional hangover, is incredibly debilitating. Take the time to monitor your emotional hangovers this year, from your reaction to simple negative experiences each day or more substantive ones. It is the ignorance of this state that leads to stress and the accumulation of them that leads to unhealthy relationships, sub par performance, and unfulfilled lives. Next week, I’ll share some specifics of how to manage these emotional hangovers.