A board where everyone is valuable, everyone has an opinion, and everyone has something to contribute. But you are the president, and you get the final say.
This week, I’m inviting you to intentionally create your emotional board of directors, and I’m showing you how you can use this concept to see the value in all of your emotions.
Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 146, Your Emotional Board of Directors.
Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, the only podcast that offers a proven process to help you work through your grief, to grow, evolve, and create a future you can truly look forward to. Here’s your host, Master Certified life coach, grief expert, widow, and mom, Krista St. Germain.
Hey there, welcome to another episode of the podcast. Is it feeling like spring for you yet? It’s feeling like spring for me here. Of course, I live in Kansas, so it’ll change in two seconds, but it’s in the 60’s today, and it’s supposed to be in the ‘70s this week when I’m recording the podcast a little bit in advance, but I can feel spring coming—taking the kids to Puerto Rico in a little bit for their spring break. I’ve never been there. I’m excited to go there.
So, it’s me, the boyfriend, and my kids. His oldest is going to be out visiting his grandparents, and his youngest is going to be with his mom, so it’ll just be the four of us, but I’m excited. I’m excited to go see a new part of the world that I haven’t seen, and I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I’m really celebrating the fact that I’m going to go on this vacation, and I am not taking a laptop y’all. I’m not taking a laptop. I’m uninstalling a couple of apps on my phone so that I am truly not going to work.
I don’t do that. I usually work while I’m on vacation, at least a little bit, but I’m not going to do that. So, I’m very excited about that. It’s progress for me, so, okay. Let’s get into your emotional board of directors. I want this to be a tool that you can use for yourself. It is a way of thinking about your emotions and maybe a way you haven’t thought about them before. This idea came from a conversation that I had with a coach friend of mine, Vicki. And Vicki and I have been coaching together every Monday since we were certified.
We went through coach certification at the same time back in 2017. Since then, every Monday, we take turns coaching each other. Coaches need coaches, too, right? And one of the things that I was noticing in my own life that Vicki was helping me with was that I was having some fear and kind of trying to ignore it, kind of trying not to pay attention to it and make it go away, do some kind of thought swapping so that I wasn’t experiencing that fear. Kind of trying to talk myself out of it.
Through our conversation, I started thinking about it a little bit differently, and that’s what I want to help you with. So, do you remember the movie Inside Out? It’s a Pixar movie. I just went and rewatched it recently because it was top of mind. I love this movie. If you’ve never seen it, you might go watch it. I’m going to spoil it for you. So, if you haven’t seen it and you don’t want me to spoil it for you, spoiler alert, you might not listen to this podcast episode until you’ve seen it.
The movie is about a little girl named Riley and Riley moves from her hometown with her parents to San Fransisco, which is kind of the big, scary place that she’s never been before. Her dad gets a job there, and she has to move. It’s a really hard transition for Riley to make because she has to leave her friends and her hockey team and start a new school and environment. It’s just hard, right? So, the whole story about Riley is told instead of kind of through Riley’s lens. It’s actually told through the lens of Riley’s emotions, five of them specifically.
They live in what they call headquarters, which is kind of inside of Riley’s brain. There’s this dashboard, and they all have very strong personalities and very strong opinions on what’s best for Riley, and some of them try to take over Riley’s life. So, there are a lot of lessons that we learn just through watching the evolution of Riley’s emotions in this movie. So, I want to talk about this idea of having your own emotional board of directors and creating a relationship with your board of directors.
Then, also, I’m going to talk about some of the themes that I see from that movie and how we can apply them to this idea of having our own emotional board of directors. So, in Disney’s Pixar Inside Out movie, there are five characters in Riley’s headquarters, right? Five characters on Riley’s emotional board of directors. They never use this term; this is just my term, alright.
They are as follows if you don’t remember, Anger, short, red flames shoot out of his head on a regular basis. Anger is very passionate about what is fair. And when he doesn’t perceive things as fair, he gets really mad. Then, you have Fear, who’s kind of this googly-eyed little purple guy whose job is to keep Riley safe. He’s always worried about dangers to Riley and very interested in making sure Riley is cautious and safe.
Then, we have Disgust, which is this green color. She’s always got her arms crossed. She’s just perpetually annoyed, and she wants to keep Riley from getting poisoned. She’s very sassy. Then, we have Sadness. Sadness is kind of short, blue, and very low energy. She’s very Eeyore and kind of wah-wah all of the time. What we come to learn about sadness is that she is what allows Riley to listen to herself, to tap into her own empathic core, and process her own emotions, right?
We don’t know that at the beginning, but it’s one of the things that we learn. Then, the fifth character is Joy. Joy, of course, is kind of the star of the show, and she believes she’s the star of the show. She believes in the most loving way possible that her job is to make Riley’s life fun, to make it happy and valuable. As you see Riley’s day unfold, you see all of these little marbles come through the headquarters. You see Joy trying to turn as many of those memories, those little marbles, yellow as possible. Right?
She wants all of her memories to be happy and joyful. She does not like the idea that sadness keeps touching some of the memories and making them blue, right, turning them blue. She especially doesn’t like the idea that any of Riley’s core memories could be anything other than joyful. And Joy kind of perpetuates what Riley is hearing from her parents. What Riley is hearing from her parents as she moves is that she’s supposed to be their happy girl. Riley’s parents are telling her she needs to keep the smile on her face, right?
They are implicitly saying it’s not okay to not be happy. Like, her job is to be their happy girl and Joy kind of thinks that this is the way of life too. That we’re just supposed to be happy. I find it probably the most interesting thing about the movie is the relationship that Joy has with Sadness. Because Joy really does not understand at the beginning of the movie the purpose of Sadness. She thinks Sadness is actually interfering.
At one point, she tries to distract her by giving her a big book to read. At one point, she draws a circle on the floor and tries to get her to stand in the circle and stay there. She doesn’t want her to touch anything because, like most of us, she thinks that she is the reason. She thinks that she is the special part of Riley’s life. She thinks memories should be happy. She thinks it is all about, you know, being joyful and that sadness is ill-advised, undesirable, to be avoided.
But, what we learn during the movie is that all of the emotions have value. Not only are they entertaining, but they all offer a benefit to Riley. So, Anger keeps Riley in touch with what she believes is fair. Right? Fear keeps Anger safe. Disgust keeps Anger from being poisoned. Joy keeps you know the fun in life, and Sadness helps Riley get in touch with what she values and process her emotions.
My favorite scene that I could watch it so many times is the scene where Riley’s imaginary friend, Bing Bong, who is like part elephant part cotton candy; I don’t know. He’s a very fascinating creature from Riley’s imagination. He’s coming to terms with the reality that Riley’s growing up, and she doesn’t need him as much. She’s not depending on him anymore, and he used to be such a central figure in Riley’s life; now you know, he’s kind of an afterthought. And he’s sad about that. And what we see is Joy, the bright yellow, happy one, come to Bing Bong and try to make him happy.
She does this in a variety of ways. She tries to be creative, she tries to make him laugh, she tries to point out the bright side, she tries to get him to think about what he could be grateful for or look forward to, but she’s basically trying to talk to him out of his sadness. We see this scene where it doesn’t work. Everything Joy tries does not help Bing Bong. She is unable to help him. Then we see Sadness, that little short blue, wah-wah, and she comes up to Bing Bong and just sits next to Bing Bong. I don’t know why this makes me want to cry, but she just sits next to Bing Bong.
He’s telling her the story about how sad it is, and she just says yes, that must be so sad. You really valued that. That’s sad. She doesn’t try to change Bing Bong. She doesn’t try to make him happy. She just witnesses what is true for him in that moment, which is that he’s feeling sad. And when she does that, he starts to cry, and Bing Bong’s cries can be tears, which I love. He starts to cry, and then soon as he’s done crying, he says okay, and he kind of sighs, like, I’m better.
Then, he’s ready to move forward because he’s processed his sadness. At this point, we see Joy look at Sadness very confused. She does not exactly know what just happened. And she asked Sadness, what did you do? And Sadness just says, well, he was sad. Basically, she was there with him when he was sad, and simply by being there with him, he was able to process his sadness and then move forward.
At that point that Joy starts to think of Sadness differently. She starts to see the value of Sadness. She goes from trying to push Sadness away like I was doing with fear to involving Sadness, and at one point, she gives Sadness the reigns. She lets Sadness be in charge because she sees that what’s in Riley’s way, right, that what’s holding Riley back is that her parents are trying to talk her into being joyful. But Riley’s not even able to sit with her own sadness and be sad, and she sees the benefit of that.
So, we go from thinking that Joy is the point to seeing the value in all of the emotions, right? And I want you to consider what would it be like if you had a relationship with the emotions that you experience on a regular basis and treated it like a board of directors. A board of directors where everyone is valuable, everyone has a perspective, everyone has something to contribute, but you are the president of the board. Just because someone on your board of directors has an opinion doesn’t mean that you, as the president of the board of directors, are going to go with that opinion. Right?
You get to hear all the opinions, and you get to decide as the president, right. What do I want to do? It’s your life, okay? So, on your board of directors, what are the emotions you want to include? So, in the movie, it’s Fear, Anger, Joy, Disgust, and Sadness, but maybe you want to add some others. Maybe you want to add some others?
Now, I purposefully did not include grief as I think about this for myself because for me, and you can think about it in a way that works for you, but for me, grief includes all of the emotions. So, for me, it’s more useful to think of if I’m thinking of anger, that can be part of grief. I’m thinking of the joy that can be part of grief; fear can be part of grief, right? All of it can be a part of grief, so I don’t prefer to think of grief as being its own member of the board of directors, but I want you to give yourself permission to decide how you want to create your own emotional board of directors.
Do you want to put grief on it? Do it. Do you want to put courage on there? Do you want to put curiosity? Do you want to put in love? What do you want? Who do you want to be on your board of directors? You create that for yourself, okay? Then, what I just want you to consider is how can I use this? How can I use this idea to help myself? So, maybe you bring to mind a current challenge that you’re having, which is what brought this to me in the first place, right? It is a challenge that I’m having. Let me write it down. And you ask yourself who on my emotional board of directors has something to say about this?
Whose voice is the loudest? Who is trying to get my attention because they have something to say and I haven’t been listening? And what if I were just to hear them out? It doesn’t mean I have to do anything with that information, but what is the perspective that they have that maybe I’m missing out on because I’m not taking time to listen? So, for me and my own self-coaching, what I’ve been working on is my relationship with fear.
If I really do stop and listen to what fear has to tell me, I’m not trying to make it go away. I’m not trying to talk myself out of it, and then I respond lovingly, appreciatively, with wisdom; things change when I do that. Things change when I do that. I even created a worksheet for myself, and we’re using it in Mom Goes On, which is how to change your relationship with a feeling.
Think about it. Kind of like a separate personality, what is that voice offer you? What does that voice want you to hear, and what do you want that voice to hear back so that you can all work together in the best interests of what you value in your life. So, just like everybody has an opinion and wants to be in charge in Riley’s headquarters, right, all the emotions at one point think, hey, I should take the lead on this one. Maybe we want them to take the lead? Maybe we don’t. But, maybe just in hearing what they have to say, we can learn something of value, take that perspective into consideration and make a thoughtful decision about how we want to respond.
So, that’s what I want to offer you is consider that you have an emotional board of directors just like Riley did. That on that board of directors are aspects of you that matter. Aspects of you that add value, perspectives that can be helpful for you if you take the time to listen. Then, what would it be like to listen and then respond on purpose? So, I hope that’s something that you can add to your toolbox. I’m definitely adding it to mine, and whatever you’ve got going on, truly I love you, and you’ve got this. Alright, take care, and I’ll see you next week. Bye-bye.
If you like what you’ve been hearing on this podcast and want to create a future you can truly get excited about after the loss of your spouse, I invite you to join my Mom Goes On coaching program. It’s small group coaching just for widowed moms like you where I’ll help you figure out what’s holding you back and give you the tools and support you need so that you can move forward with confidence. Please don’t settle for a new normal that’s less than you deserve. Go to coachingwithkrista.com and click work with me for details and the next steps. I can’t wait to meet you.