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  • Writer's pictureDoug Fleener

Slamming on the Emotional Brake

I was the youngest of the three boys. I definitely wanted things my way. If that didn’t happen, I ensured everyone around me was as unhappy as I was. I could throw one hell of a temper tantrum.

I remember times I was deep into a temper tantrum, and I couldn’t stop. I may have even forgotten what I was upset about, but I continued to go because there was no stopping once I started. At least until I ran out of energy or audience.

I didn’t get mad too often as an adult, but I could have emotional outbursts. Especially when I was frustrated with someone else. Sometimes I would still experience not being able to stop the outburst, knowing that I was overreacting or saying something hurtful. Especially when I was drinking and using.

One day in sobriety, my emotions started racing. I could feel myself flying toward a place I didn’t want to be. Then in a moment of clarity, I realized I could stop, but I had to do so immediately. I told myself I needed to slam the Emotional Brake—hard stop. And I did.

It is a metaphor I use often. When I feel frustration building up. When someone is making me angry. When my emotions are picking up steam. I know I am now at the point of no turning back. The emotional cliff is right in front of me. I now picture slamming down a brake.

As a leader in recovery, The Emotional Brake is crucial. Leaders need to be predictable. Even keeled. Emotional outbursts harm our relationships with others and negatively impact the business. Opposite of what great leaders do.

Sometimes you need to throw on the Emotional Brake. Maybe not at this moment. Just be ready to come to that hard stop.

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