Have you ever waffled back and forth like a thousand times when making a decision? So much so that you’re sick and tired of thinking about it and you still don’t know what to do?
I know I have. And I think, even though I don’t always realize it at the time, it’s because I feel really conflicting emotions and it’s hard to make sense of them. Guilt and excitement. Sadness and relief. Fear and… other muddled feelings. The beauty of the Mixed Emotions card deck is that it embraces this complexity and helps bring emotional clarity to the decision making process.
To get a sense of how to use them, let’s go through this dilemma I faced about which job to accept – and how I used Mixed Emotions cards to get some much needed clarity about my feelings.
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Which Job to Accept? Unpacking Mixed Emotions
I had to choose between two job offers recently, and I waffled back and forth about a thousand times between the two. I had already spent so much time and energy debating the decision that I felt exhausted – and I wasn’t really any closer to an answer. I tried to keep emotions out of it, but is that really realistic? Of course I had feelings about both options; if I didn’t, it wouldn’t matter what I chose. So I got out the Mixed Emotions card deck to try to get some clarity into how I really felt and what that meant.
Here’s how it works. This is a decision between multiple options, so I brought out the cards in the deck that say Option 1 and Option 2. And then I chose cards to represent how I imagine myself feeling when I say yes to each one. Pretty simple. Here’s how it played out:
Option 1 is a job in an industry where I have a lot of experience. I’d know what to expect for the most part, and I would be doing the same type of work that I have been doing for years. Here are the cards I chose:
When I say yes to this offer, I feel safe, secure and protected. I know what to expect. I know I can do the work well and that feels good. But I could also see myself feeling trapped, unfulfilled, purposeless, and eventually, resentful. I have felt that way before in this type of work, so those feelings are not unreasonable. One of my first realizations when I see the cards laid out is that I do not really feel a lot of passion for this job. My reasons for doing it are more because I should and it’s safe than I want to.
Option 2 is a job and industry that would be totally new to me. It pays less, but I would get to work with a non-profit of which I am already a passionate supporter. I do not have the technical skills required for the job, but they are not concerned and have offered to train me on the job. Here are the cards I chose:
When I say yes to this offer, I feel curious. It’s all new, and this definitely affords a level of excitement. For many of the same reasons, though, I feel afraid. And inadequate. There is a lot of uncertainty. But the card that really stuck out to me in this group is empowered. When I envision how I will feel if I accept this job, I am excited by the possibility of waking up everyday feeling really passionate about my new challenge. My reasons for doing it are based on passion; and while the fear is understandable and appropriate, I can recognize that fear and excitement are actually two expressions of the same need.
Now the obvious choice may seem like this second one. And in my case, that’s what I chose. But the purpose of Mixed Emotions cards is less to tell you exactly what to do and more to clarify your feelings around each choice. If I had been in a position when I really wanted stability and security more than anything else – as the primary breadwinner in a family, for example – then the first job could be the best choice in spite of my reservations. The gift of the cards is the clarity they offer. Mixed Emotions cards, for the win.
Mixed Emotions card deck is a powerful tool to help you tap into the most underutilized asset in the world: your own emotions. They are meant for open-ended experimentation, but the deck also comes with instructions for various ways to use them.
This card deck can help you do the following:
- Make decisions
- Resolve conflicts
- Enhance emotional literacy
- Recognize patterns
- Solve problems
- Identify how you feel
- Foster creativity
“Mixed emotions can be literally life saving.” – Dr. Bernie Siegel
Mixed Emotions cards are on sale now in the EQ store. Buy your deck today!
When you’re making a decision, do you try to push emotions away? Most of us have been socialized to do exactly that, but it’s more effective to lean in and listen to them, even challenging emotions. They can provide clarity.Click to tweet
This next story, which took place years after accepting that job, is about deciding what to say to my boss when she asked me to take on another project…. and in today’s world, when every business is trying to do more with less and operating in a fast-paced, unpredictable environment, I bet I am not the only one figuring out how to respond to such requests…
Mixed Emotions for Yes-or-No Decisions
I am a “yes” man, or a recovering “yes” man, you might say. When asked to do an extra project or join for a volunteer day, my first instinct is to say, “yes, of course!” And sometimes I end up spreading myself too thin and wearing myself down. Recently I faced this dilemma with a request from my boss: Could I take on an extra project that would require me to put in some extra hours for the next couple of weeks? On the surface, it’s simple. The answer is yes, or no. But underneath the surface, I feel a sea of different, and at times conflicting, emotions. Excitement. Guilt. Fear. The Mixed Emotions card deck helped me clarify and dig deeper into these feelings – and ultimately, to make a well-informed decision that surprised even me.
Here’s how it works. This is a yes-or-no decision, so I brought out the cards for Yes and No. Under the Yes cards, I chose cards to represent how I imagine myself feeling when I say yes. Under the No card, how I imagine myself feeling after saying no. A simple exercise for a situation with complex feelings.
Yes is accepting this extra project and working more hours for the next couple of weeks. Here are the cards I chose:
When I say yes, I imagine feeling some really conflicting emotions. On the one hand, I would feel excited and happy because I like saying yes. I like getting things done, delivering. On the other hand, I would feel exhausted because I am already at my work limit, and very likely to end up feeling resentful and bitter – toward the work, my boss, myself for saying yes, or all of the above. Seeing this mix of cards helped me see that yes, I feel conflicting emotions – and maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. If exhaustion and resentment are my primary reasons for declining, then I could accept on the condition that it replaces, and isn’t piled on top of, some other project. Looking at the cards helped me acknowledge that those challenging emotions are legitimate, and I do need to address their concerns.
No is declining the extra project, and here are the cards I chose for my feelings around that:
When I say no, I also feel conflicting emotions. I would feel free, unburdened and empowered, and at the same time feel guilty. How is that possible? So it goes in the world of emotions; it’s not always cut and dry. The sadness is interesting because it would stem from the fact that I really do love doing projects and would particularly enjoy this one. So to say no is to turn down something I would enjoy. Looking at these cards in concert with the Yes cards helped me come to the same conclusion: I would like to say yes and there are reasons to do so, but not at the expense of my wellbeing. Laying out the negative feelings that would come up helped me see that I had more options than I thought, which in turn helped me make an even better decision. I gave a conditional yes that addressed my concerns and also my excitement.
But what I decided to do in the end is actually less important than what the Mixed Emotions cards helped me do, which is to see that I had more options, and more power, than I had realized. The cards helped me activate 3 vital skills of emotional intelligence:
The cards helped me see that I had more options than I thought I had. Some were big changes, and others were smaller, but in the end, I realized I had quite a few options. When you are feeling stuck, this is a lifeline. Learn more about Exercise Optimism.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed by my emotions, the cards helped me treat them as a strategic resource that I could assess, harness and transform – with amazing results. Learn more about Navigating Emotions.
Embracing Mixed Emotions
Mixed Emotions cards are a tool for turning something that often makes us feel overwhelmed – our own emotions – into a resource. Instead of hindering the decision making process, they start to clarify what the best decision is.
You can order them today from the EQ store. They’re on sale for $25.95.