Illness and uncertainty have reigned over the past few weeks. Hunkered down on my couch with the flu and hot tea, I had ample time to review 2022.

My conclusion? Life’s really all about our emotional responses.

Taking time to review the year – and my reactions – clarified what those who study emotional intelligence know well.

It’s not what happens to us, but how we respond that makes the difference. 

Emotions, Emotions, Emotions! 

Tender emotional whiplash is how I’d describe my review of last year.

In January 2022, I adjusted my disappointed expectations for launching my book, The Leadership Pause, later than expected as a result of a paper shortage. I felt both disappointed and happy. 

Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. I experienced disbelief, fear, and an eagerness to help somehow.

In late April, I came down with COVID and felt like s%$@ for a long time! Add to that another layer of sticky emotions with the news of two mass shootings – in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX – that left 30+ people dead in May. I felt outrage and helpless.

My spirits shifted to upbeat as work on our new garage/office started in early June, only to plummet with the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade and women’s health care later that month.

The July 4th weekend brought gun violence close to home in Highland Park, IL, that heightened my agita. Then on July 12th, I experienced immense joy on Book Launch Day.  

Late summer found us enjoying an Indonesian work trip in the sun. Autumn had us appreciating good health and community as we opened our home to a recuperating friend.

Early winter brought devastating news of the death of a beloved teacher. I wept with profound sorrow. 

I feel relief that our garage/office construction project is finally winding down. On the couch sipping my tea in early December – between bouts of coughing – I felt worried how I’d finish ‘elfing’ for the holidays.

Feel the emotional whiplash?  

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There’s no shortage of events to jangle our emotions around all year.

Given the past three years of upheaval, it’s easy to view our emotional experience as being triggered by ‘some thing out there’ – as if the external events have emotions inherent in them.

Not so. We’re just wired to feel. . . all of it. Feeling ourselves is one of our keen superpowers as humans.

But, like any superpower, we’ve got to learn how to use it.

You see, we’re biased against emotions we label as ‘bad,’ like anger, disgust, fear, and anxiety. You know, those sticky ones.

We prefer feel-good emotions like happiness, satisfaction, and joy. Nothing wrong with these either, except that they, too, come and go, literally in moments or hours.

This human tendency to get caught up in feelings, to push them away or avoid them when sticky, or to cling to them when we like them, is part of our neural wiring. 

But it’s just not useful in the long run.

This push-pull of emotions can leave us not knowing how to work with ourselves effectively, or what the Emotional Quotient (EQ) experts call self-regulation.

And working with ourselves, especially as we greet a new year, is as essential as breathing.

Grab your cup of tea, settle in, and let’s get started. 

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Reflect, Review, & Rejigger

Janus, the Roman two-faced deity, god of change and new beginnings, reminds us to look back at our experiences to look forward toward the new.

Reviewing our experiences and emotions is key to addressing the whiplash of our emotional experiences.

Emotions are simply “energy in motion.” Strong emotions—joy, sorrow, or anger—move us in some way.   

Like lemon zest or the warmth of curry’s tang, emotions transform our world from a series of events into personal experiences – the spice of our lives.

Emotions offer up lessons, create new opportunities, and sear-in our memories.

Like tweaking spices for your meal, take time now to reflect, review, and rejigger your experiences for 2023.

First, take 10-15 minutes to jot down your most notable experiences from 2022. Reviewing your 2022 calendar might help.

Then, bring each situation to mind and turn toward your emotions with acceptance, noting and naming your feelings and physical sensations.

Identify and investigate your emotions with curiosity. Feel them. Allow them to inform your goals for 2023. 

Your emotions and feelings come and go – don’t try to control them. Imagine dancing with them to gain clarity about what you’d like to bring forward from 2022, and what you’d like to release as you enter 2023.

Now, play with how you’d like to feel this new year. Write out a list of words that capture your experience. You’re looking to rejigger your emotional experience – by choosing how you’d like to feel in 2023. Not just fairy dust, btw. Choosing to respond, instead of reacting to the whiplash, is a powerful act.

Lastly, choose your One Word for 2023. Here’s a great guide to choosing your one word. Post it everywhere. Feel into it. Say it aloud, daily.

My One Word for 2023 is No. It surprised me too! Hit reply and share your One Word for 2023 with me.


ABOUT THE CREATOR OF The Leadership Pause

I’m Dr. Chris Johnson, psychologist, executive coach and author of The Leadership Pause: Sharpen Your Attention, Deepen Your Presence and Navigate the Future  available on Barnes & Noble, Bookshelf, and Amazon (

I draw from the book content in crafting Calm the Chaos for Busy Professionals, on online course, and  Are You Willing to Go First: Conversational Keys to Leadership Success two of my popular course offers.

Pause-to-Purpose In-Person Workshop: Get a jump start on 2023 by joining me for a fun and relaxed exploration of your purpose. We’ll practice pause and engage our creative energies. You’ll come away with clarity and a sense of joy! Sign up here for this free event, my give back to this community.

I publish The Leadership Pause newsletter bi-weekly on LinkedIn. If you’re not already subscribed, click the Subscribe button to follow me too!

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For more information, contact me by email:, or visit my website  Q4 Consulting (

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