How much emotional pie are you dishing out on a daily basis?Mar 20, 2023
Do you ever get to the end of the day and feel like you’ve nothing left to give and there are no reserves left in the tank? For me, that’s usually when one of my teenagers wants to sit on the end of my bed and tell me about something that they are feeling really troubled by. And it’s not a quick 10-minute conversation. It usually needs to be handled sensitively and a good listening ear is required. Solutions aren’t always needed, just a good dose of empathy. And when you’re feeling emotionally drained, it can be very challenging to muster up the strength to pay attention and to be an active listener.
It might be that you come home from a particularly busy day and your partner wants to discuss something with you– a problem they have at work, an unresolved issue with a colleague, or maybe to talk through a pitch to a potential client and they require reassurance. Maybe you have a parent who requires some TLC – they’re worrying about something and really need your help – an IT issue, a medical concern or they are feeling overwhelmed about things in general.
It can be hard can’t it, to find the emotional energy to offer any semblance of assistance sometimes, when you feel drained with no emotional resources to spare.
During The Winning Edge programme, I talk about the emotional pie– a concept I have borrowed from another one of our Facilitators, who learnt it from another! As Facilitators we ourselves are always learning- ‘When you’re green you’re growing, when you’re ripe you rot.’ as Ray Kroc once said.
The emotional pie concept brilliantly describes our emotional capacity and how ultimately, we have the choice as to how much emotion we donate to people and situations.
It works like this… Unless you have a major event going on in your life such as a serious illness – for yourself or a loved one, bereavement etc, and, you’ve had a relatively good night’s sleep, each day, you will wake with a freshly baked emotional pie. As the day goes on, you get to decide how your slices are given away. So, for example, your journey to work is peppered with hold ups, perhaps less than cheerful people and you maybe arrive late at work. How much angst, anger and stress you decide to donate to this, will determine how much emotional pie is given away.
Maybe you then receive an email from someone, and you interpret this email as not very helpful, or perhaps feel the tone is not necessary, and so you spend a couple of hours winding yourself up about the meaning behind the email – more emotional pie. Perhaps you work through your lunch hour due to a big project and feel this is unfair – more emotional pie. Then the journey home involves drivers who don’t drive like you think they should, or maybe a delayed train or bus. More emotional pie because you feel tired, and quite frankly peed off that it feels like this every single day.
You arrive home, and the parking space outside your house has been taken, or someone left the bins in the way in your drive, it’s raining, and you get soaked moving them and you’re frustrated and irritated; that’s the last slice of the emotional pie gone.
In through the front door you go, where the ones you love most in this world live, and already you feel drained, with nothing left to give. You walk into the kitchen, and someone has left their coffee cup and plate in the sink, instead of in the dishwasher and there it is, the last straw and you blow your top. No emotional pie left to deal with something which you find irksome. The wrath tumbles out and disproportionately so. It is in these situations that we would do well to remind ourselves of what Aristotle once said:
“Anybody can become angry- that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way- that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”
To be response-able
The Choice Model is one of the foundations of The Winning Edge programme and helps us to understand why it’s so important to understand the power our thoughts have on creating our emotions and thus our response to people and situations. By thinking consciously about the nature of our thinking, we can understand we are in total control of the responses we give, rather than to react, we can be response-able.
This is the Masterclass teaching in Level Three of the Mindset Coaching Membership and we explore the finer detail of the Choice Model– very often a lightbulb moment for many. It’s liberating and empowering to know we are in control– that nothing and nobody can make us feel anything, the choice is down to us.
When making a choice, our brain will run through five choice drivers– our Imagination, Conscience, Beliefs – which includes the beliefs we hold about ourselves which can very often be self-limiting, Values and Awareness, including our self-awareness. These choice drivers will influence the way we feel about the situation we face and the decisions we make. If we’re not consciously aware of this, very often we can make habitual default responses.
And sometimes, it’s about creating a space before we respond which we call to MUMMS something – to Make Up My Mind Slowly; this enables you to feel calmer and to think things through with a quieter brain.
By creating that space when we MUMMS something, we can decide how we want to respond to a person or situation, and thus we can be a lot calmer and have clarity. As the writer Ambrose Pierce once said: “Speak when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”
By consciously working through your choice drivers and asking yourself: ‘How do I want to think and feel about this?’, you can choose how you respond to a situation – you have the choice to either fan the flames or to enact your inner sprinkler system to calm those busy and less than productive thoughts. There are undeniably times when you will react rather than respond, but it’s knowing that no one can make you feel anything– it is completely within your control, when you are consciously aware of the nature of your thoughts. And thus, you get to choose how much emotional pie you hand over. Without this knowledge, some people don’t just hand out slices of pie, it’s almost as if they are handing the slicer over and allowing people to help themselves!
Recipe for success
I’m not saying once you understand this concept, that you will always be in total control of your thoughts and emotions because after all, you are only human. It's not about never feeling the ‘unhelpful’ emotions such as feeling upset, annoyed, frustrated or angry. It’s knowing people can’t do it to you. Anger can be a very motivating emotion. You might choose to get angry; you might choose to get annoyed. Choosing to be frustrated or annoyed about something because it goes against your values or conscience is sometimes the right response. Sometimes, there are occasions when showing someone you are upset and angry is a catalyst for positive change, but it’s knowing you do that to yourself. Unfortunately, there are far too many situations when someone doesn’t think before they react and things can escalate, rather than be calmly understood or resolved.
So, with your emotional pie, by consciously choosing how you want to think and feel about a person’s actions, or a situation, you can choose whether the slices stay with you, or get given away.
We all have our own emotional capacity according to what’s going on in our lives; sometimes we feel better equipped to deal with the curve balls; sometimes it can feel like the smallest of things can tip us over the edge however, we do get to choose– as challenging as that might feel sometimes. It’s choosing one thought over another – which intellectually sounds simple but emotionally – putting this into practice, it can feel far from easy sometimes.
There are different versions of how the emotional pie is discussed, and you may also have heard of the stress bucket of water. The Winning Edge version talks about the thoughts behind those emotions– an important component of the equation.
It’s vital to manage your own emotional capacity – to recognise when the stress levels are meaning slices of your emotional pie are being given away left, right and centre. Guard your pie, hold the knife and you choose who and what gets a slice.
Think about the teenager sat on the end of your bed, the partner who wants you to be a sounding board, or the parent who needs some reassurance, by managing your thoughts and thus your emotions, you’ve more than crumbs left to give to the situation. And, and… most importantly, if you have some emotional pie left at the end of the day, you have some reserves left for some self-care. You should always put your oxygen mask on first.
My mantra if I feel myself getting het up: ‘Emotional pie Kirsty, guard your emotional pie.’ Maybe give it a try yourself – it puts you in the driving seat and is incredibly empowering to know that the control lies with you.
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Do you find it challenging to feel in charge of your emotions? Does stress play a large part in your life?
The Mindset Coaching Membership can help you understand the tools and strategies needed to be the best version of you. With Masterclass Teachings + Coaching + Accountability, we will help you to create the future you want. Find out more here.
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