I'm sure I'll come out ahead of this emotional shipwreck

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At your orders, general.

Sometimes we do not know where to look for the strength to solve the problems that come our way every day. We are shipwrecked in despair. We do not realize that to get ahead you just have to look inside yourself.
 
I'm María Teresa, a personal and business image consultant. My friends and family tell me Mayte, I like it because it sounds warmer, less rigid than Maria Teresa. When I saw a portrait of Maria Theresa I of Austria, I was surprised by the authoritarian attitude to the whole body. Of course, they were other times and she had to lead an empire, so I can imagine; If one who is a simple mortal becomes stern when trying to direct his life, I do not want to imagine her.

When I think of myself, I think of a woman who is orderly, attentive, and especially inclined towards empathy. I suspect that it is due to the nature of my work. As an image consultant, I must be very receptive to the personality, interests, and needs of my clients. There is another feature that I like to highlight: my sense of humor. I inherited it from my father's family. I think that if a person is not able to laugh alone, his inner life will probably be sterile. Laughter is a symptom of spiritual health.
 
My work life contrasts with the bad management of my own emotions. Sometimes I reproach myself, but that's the way things are. I do not understand how the ingredients to create a human being can be combined in such a way that they result in a person who knows how to laugh at life and at the same time is extremely emotional; the mix of tragicomedy. I am very anxious, to such an extent that I have come to experience true panic attacks, that brings me back to earth, even though I try to stay light, light, to fly when I can connect with myself doing what exalts the best of me.
 
I have not dared to say this to anyone, but, for a while, I have been shipwrecked in a very strong emotional crisis: I feel the deepest sadness of my life. I would not have imagined that, at forty-three, with a consolidated career, being a successful woman, I would feel such desolation. Sometimes I think it's a temporary thing, I even think it's just a hormonal issue. Other times I think it's something permanent, and I do not see the end, and when that happens panic attacks come, suddenly I lose air and I feel a scorching heat as if I were locked in a very small and dark closet.
 
To deal with these emotional outbursts I have learned to stay calm. I tell myself, breath, you're not going to be shipwrecked, take a breath and plant yourself on the ground. I analyze what happens to me, I try to listen to that part of me that clings to not succumbing to panic. We all have a lifejacket inside, it's just a matter of learning how to use it. I think part of the secret lies in improvisation when life takes us by surprise we have to turn it around.

My work has taught me to deal with the emotions of other people. That is why I have developed a sixth sense that has even helped me. Just as the pianists play the keys of the piano so that the sound is born, I play the sensitive fibers of my clients so that they give their best notes. Not everyone knows how to behave correctly in front of others, or in their work environment. That's why they come to me, I help them, I guide them, they give them tools. I have learned to say things with subtlety, in my ear, as if I were Pepe Grillo. One can not arrive and release the truth to people, they are not accustomed to frankness, and even if we were, because suddenly I include myself. You have to have method, touch and experience, human warmth.
 
I remember very well the first time I had to sell image consulting to a general in the United States Army. For some reason my boss could not attend the appointment and appointed a colleague and me as the ones in charge of presenting the details of the advice and closing the deal with the general. If I say that I was scared to death, I'm short. Obviously I felt that I was sinking into a sea of anxiety. Before introducing ourselves to the general and his team, my partner and I agreed that he would speak, for being the most experienced.
 
Moments before the appointment, in the elevator, he told me:

You have to be very careful with your words when talking to a client. If we make a mistake, the boss cuts our heads.

I reminded him that he had agreed to take over the exhibition. I only thought to support him morally, behind the scenes. He looked at me with eyes that I still have in mind, as if he were trying to tell me that anything can happen to a client.
                     
As soon as I set foot in the room where the presentation would take place, I felt that I had fallen into a pit. There were about twenty men. Their eyes cut the air, they were sitting around a small box. In a matter of minutes, my partner came forward and began to explain each point of the advice, with much eloquence and ease. I calmed myself to see him sure of himself, in front of those hard men who did not make a gesture.

There came a time when I was reassured that I would not have to say anything. My partner had everything under control, and it was a matter of minutes before it was over. Suddenly, one of those present, who apparently was an intelligence general, gave me an inquisitive look and asked me to pass the front to round up some points that, in his opinion, my partner had omitted.

He had never spoken in public, much less in front of twenty US army officers and a general who aspired to reach the top of the Pentagon. My vision blurred, I tried to breathe, but I felt as if an invisible hand covered my mouth and nose. I still remember the men's looks, their expectation, and the pressure of knowing I was responsible for a contract with the army. I do not know where the words came from, but I went to the general and said:

To enhance your attributes as a leader you must be congruent with your appearance, knowledge and behavior, not only during work hours but every minute of your life. Great leaders are all the time. Let's start with clothing, the right complement to create that congruence between what you know and what you do.
                     
Not only the general and his team were left speechless, but also my partner was embarrassed by my response. Now I know that I found the clarity to succeed in the hours of effort and intense work that had been done until then and everything had to do, I think, because at that moment I invoked all my presence and I became completely in that situation, getting connected, I suppose, with that internal certainty that we all possess. I started talking thinking that the expert on the subject was me, I chose my words carefully, as my boss had explained to me. The general believed in us and hired us that day.
                     
Since then I have dealt with my weaknesses, leaning on my empathy towards others, to understand myself. It is a long way. Many wise men have said it, know yourself. Sometimes the road is much more arduous and laborious than any job in the world. It's worth taking the challenge. I'm sure I'll come out ahead of this emotional crisis. I will not be shipwrecked, I will be congruent with me, there is the exit.

María Teresa Requejo Jiménez


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