The quality of the interactions we have with friends, family, and, as you move into the world of work, colleagues or clients, can often make or break our day. And negative interactions can completely derail some of us for longer than that.
We, as a species, have a habit of holding other people responsible for how they ‘make’ us feel. But how true is that widely held belief? Can other people actually have control over our emotions?
The answer is clearly ‘no’. But why do other people’s words, behaviours, actions and even the energy they give off have such a profound effect on so many of us? Often the answer is that we have become identified with whatever we perceive someone to be attacking: perhaps the work we’ve done or the role we are in. But this is no different to a child crying when a toy is taken from them because they believe their toy is to some extent a part of them. It’s not. And you are neither your work nor your role.
Emotional intelligence is about being able to take a step back from the wave of emotion you might experience as a result of a challenging interaction and look at your reaction objectively. However, the key is to catch it before it takes you over. That means before you get angry, before you get upset, before you get defensive and before you get lost in the drama.
Often when a button gets pressed (and it’s often by the same people) an emotion arises. As soon as you feel it, ask yourself where you feel it in your body and how does it make you feel. Just that awareness can often be enough to stall an outburst or burgeoning resentment.
Studies in neuroscience have shown that when we experience a strong negative emotion, chemicals are released from the brain that stimulates the cells in our bodies. Every time that emotion is revisited, whether through obsessive analysis post-event or because a similar situation has arisen, the cells get stimulated again. Our bodies are effectively having a fight or flight adrenaline response every time we even think about the event and the longer that goes on the more we (and our cells) get addicted to it. In essence, we get addicted to feeling bad and so the more likely we are to seek out those situations and feel justified in those reactions.
This is all subconscious, of course, meaning you are not really in control. To take back control, function more effectively and be who you really are, you need to stop and notice, to be aware of how you are reacting. Then you need to take a deep breath and choose to react differently.
Over time, this will become your habit; you’ll have more energy (because it won’t be used up fighting pointless battles and playing the victim or being competitive) and you’ll be a lot happier.
It takes practice, but it’s worth the effort. Your improved relationships and effectiveness at work and play will be proof of that.
Source: HN Global