Partitioning The Emotional Events in Your Life

Really effective people are able to partition the emotional events in their life.

They can have a really bad morning but still show up for that employee lunch meeting and beam with energy and positive enthusiasm.

They can scream at someone on the phone one minute but become totally composed and serene during the next call.

My analogy is the Titanic. I think not letting any single emotional event hijack your day is critical. Being in the moment depends on partitioning. When I let one issue dominate my mental resources, or carry over my anger from yesterday to today, my effectiveness plummets. It’s not easy, but it’s a skill we should all work on.

5 comments on “Partitioning The Emotional Events in Your Life
  • That’s all true in a professional sense, and is a valuable insight. But one notable thing about reading this blog is that, for documenting the internal and external process of a passionate 18-year-old guy, there are remarkably few references to emotional events that don’t somehow involve work, your career trajectory, and other practical matters. It’s a little too easy I think for people to see that and say, “Well, thank God! Ben is not one of those kids who waste their days mooning about failed or potential romances. It’s a sign of his advanced maturity.”

    Maybe you should also be thinking about discovering and cultivating the emotions that you are capable of with others, as you also develop the ability to strictly “partition” these feelings?

  • Ben,

    I agree with your concept here, in particular because if I don’t I almost certainly put myself in a situation where I will unnecessarily and really unwittingly impact the next person I interact with (even if it’s myself) if I let the emotion of my last interaction flow into the next one.

    I’ve found it useful to try and build in silence as the partition if you will, I find peace and power inside of it. I COMPLETELY agree that bringing the last interaction into the next one, by very definition means I am not present.

    I commit to myself to understand how my emotions manifested and where they came from.

    Ultimately, I find love. Inside of love and acceptance, my interactions may be partitioned but they always vibe the same way.

    Maybe in the end, what I’m getting at is emotion is real and should be a part of my interactions daily. It’s just that the person I’m interacting with should feel what’s inside of me w/ regards to them, not anyone else.

  • Hi Ben,

    I think there is an important semantic difference you’re missing in your thinking. We can always choose our responses to situations. This isn’t partitioning, it’s just acknowledging an emotion (anger, frustation, etc.) and choosing not to let it control us. We shouldn’t endeavour to partition our emotions to specific contexts because that can lead to partitioning our lives and principles (like the business owner who fiercely protects his family but allows his company to destroy his community’s environment). I think when people do that they stunt their growth as people. I believe our passions and principles should spill all over our lives. That’s my thinking at least.

  • Aaron — thanks for the comment. I agree that the point here is not to let emotions control us or our day. You are right that “partition” may be imprecise — our values should extend across all aspects of our life — but on a very practical, day-to-day level, “partition” implies separating the frustrating phone call you had 10 minutes ago with the meeting you’re now about to enter in which an upbeat attitude is essential.

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