Whether it’s a micromanager who constantly looks over your shoulder or someone who takes credit for your ideas, most people have worked for a bad boss at least once in their career. While a toxic leader can make it difficult to go to work, it’s possible to reshape your energy to cope better, says Harvard fellow and neuropsychologist Julia DiGangi, author of Energy Rising: The Neuroscience of Leading with Emotional Power.
“A lot of times we feel like our emotions, or our feelings, are things that are happening outside of our body—a situation happens and we’re victim to our feelings,” says DiGangi. “This is not the case. Neuroscience is incredibly clear that emotions are quite literally an electrical energy. We have tons of evidence that shows that when you understand how to work with energy, whether it’s solar energy or water energy or wind energy, you can harness it to drive the changes that you want. The exact same thing is true about our emotional energetics.”
Relationships are energetic exchanges between two people, and leadership can be defined as whoever has the strongest emotional energy in the room, says DiGangi. “It’s a 50/50 thing,” she explains. “If I don’t like the way a relationship is going, I have to think about calling back my energy.”
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR ATTENTION
The first step is to take inventory of what’s happening with your attention. There’s always a chronicity to it, says DiGangi. “No one has one bad interaction and then it’s off the rails,” she says. “More often, it’s that you’ve been living this way for weeks, months, or years.”