We have all be there! Someone says something that makes your emotions boil – your heart accelerates, muscles tense, stress levels surge and now you want to either fight or escape.
If you fight, things are often said that you may later regret – emotions got the best of you, right? If you escape, you may feel stressed, angry, hurt, or confused trying to figure out what happened and why. Either way, the relationship is frayed, trust may be lost, feelings are hurt, sidebar conversations may take place – however it unfolds, it rarely feels good or is pretty.
People don’t realize just how much control they actually have when they feel their backs up against the wall. We can learn how to manage our thoughts and feelings even when the negative emotional energy of another is transferred to us. We can move forward, using curiosity to help us see opportunities in such situations, rather than fixating on the problems that may have gotten us there in the first place.
Self-Awareness: The Key to Managing Emotions:
Last week we looked at the importance of understanding your values, wants, boundaries, and emotions. Understanding them puts you in the driver’s seat and allows you to see where your thoughts and feelings are taking you, both of which influence behavior. Once you understand what is triggering your emotions then it becomes easier to access calming strategies to help you stay cool, curious and connected when things get heated.
Calming strategies are important as they allow us to BE (connected to self) instead of DO (react). When we can BE in the moment and stay connected to self, we can then focus on staying curious to learn and understand what is happening in the conversation, and more importantly the reason behind our boiling emotions. The idea is to consistently practice a calming strategy that works for you so that you can easily access it when you need it.
Keep Calm To Curiously Carry On
Here are 3 popular strategies that help our clients achieve calm so they can get curious and carry on:
1. Time Out
- Give yourself permission to take a time out to cool off and reflect.
- Ask for a minute to help you collect yourself or put up a boundary if you feel your space is being invaded. This strategy is sometimes used in negotiations and provides the parties with the space to rethink what they really want.
- Ancient practice that has been used to quiet the mind for centuries.
- Offers space to reflect, learn, and get curious, allowing you to discover opportunities you would not normally consider.
- “Being” instead of “doing” for even a brief time will provide the grounding and sense of calm that will help you gain clarity about what you want to do.
3. Seeking Solitude
- Easy way to feel a sense of calm in a hectic schedule.
- Take a bathroom break – toilet stalls are private and can provide the solitude needed to access a place of calm.
- Find a little hideaway within a building and retreat for a couple of minutes,
- Take time for a cup of tea, give yourself permission to just “be,” get grounded and feel calm.
If you want to know more about these and other calming strategies (benefits and challenges) you can learn about them in The Power Of Curiosity: How To Have Real Conversations That Create Collaboration, Innovation and Understanding (Morgan James 2015). You can download the Intro and Chapter 1 here.
What calming strategy works for you?
How easily can you access it when you need it?
How do you feel when you are accessing this strategy?
How does this support you in your daily life?
Next week we are going to answer the Million Dollar questions by showing you how to apply The Power of Curiosity method to our most difficult interactions with others.