It is amazing how much can change in such a short time. Change is a constant thing when you are committed to growth. Growth isn't always comfortable nor easy, but it is simple.
Having written a book about change and the growth cycle still doesn't exclude me from going through the process and feeling the emotions attached to it. I still feel the fear, self-doubt, and the discomfort of uncertainty, but knowing and understanding that it is part of the journey definitely makes you understand what and why you are feeling what you are feeling. Knowing that helps you not to get overwhelmed by the emotions, but allows you to manage them. The more skilled you get in recognising what it is that you are dealing with, investigating the impact it has on your emotions the more you are able to respond to what is necessary for the next step instead of reacting.
Just like that classic moment in the movie Matrix, when Neo sees the bullets coming and as if in slow motion literally bends over backwards to get away from them , it is the same for us when we are aware of what it is we are facing and why we facing it that enables you to see them coming and gives you time to make clearer decisions about how you want to deal with them. This ability to see things coming is what I refer to as “living from an open space”. I know it sounds all whoo whoo, but it describes to me exactly what I feel when I get it right.
When we are backed in to a corner or when we are in overwhelm we feel all hemmed in and making wise choices or getting clarity is very hard. You feel like to are in a closed space and desperation kicks in and we lash out with decisions that often come back to bite us. Learning how to operated out of the Open space, takes intention and time to master, but it is so worth it when you do. Even the most emotionally charged moments can be handled with an inner calm that gives you clarity to see exactly what is coming at you, giving you time to respond instead of react.
Remember the RIM, well here is a way I use it to process stuff.
The next time you walk away from a situation where you feel emotionally charged, i.e. angry, humiliated, devastated. Take the time to draw away before to do anything and figure out why you are so charged. What just happened? Why did it upset you so much? When we are emotionally charged we often can’t see past what we are feeling right now and we become fixated and start to create a story around what just happened, it is vitally important to not get sucked down that hole. We need to take an honest look at what just happened and keep in mind that there are two sides to this story. Don’t add what you think someone was thinking to the story. Get clarity, don’t make any judgements.
As human beings we are experts at casting the blame as far away from ourselves as possible. Blame dis-empowers us and makes us into the victim. Unfortunately the pay off for being the victim can often be so worthwhile, people connect with us and stroke us and try to make us feel better. This lulls us into a terrible cycle because people eventually get tired and resentful of looking after a victim and the go away which leaves the victim in need of more connection. When you have been in a situation that is emotionally charged don’t get sucked into this trap. Be honest with yourself. Take responsibility! This is what victor’s do. Ask yourself if there was any part that you played that added to what just played out? Take responsibility for the part you played in what just unfolded. Own it. Do you need to apologise for it? It is also important to be very clear on your boundaries and make sure others know where these lines are drawn.
What is the next step? In this example I would say communication is absolutely key. Human beings are story creating machines, we have to make sense of what is happening around us all the time. We are creating stories every second of the day around what we see, hear and experience. When someone rushes past us in the office and doesn’t say hello, we can start forming a story around why they did that, we wonder if we have done something to upset them, so we start tracing the last conversation or interaction we had with them and we start piecing a story together. When we start patching stories together with assumption we are stepping into swampy land. The fact is they might have just got a call about a sick child or parent and they honestly didn’t even see you in their fear storm. When we have interactions with each other that leave us walking away feeling anxious or unsettled, when the time is right, check in with that person and just ask.. “Hey, you seemed a bit off this morning in the meeting, I walked away wondering if I have upset you, are we okay?” Nine times out of ten they are dealing with something else and won’t even realise that is how it came across. And if it is something, you have just opened the door for a conversation that will hopefully, if you willing to listen to understand, bring that relationship to the next level.
At this point, I want to add a little paragraph on boundaries. Call it a bonus.
All of us want to be liked by others, this sometimes leads to us allow people to overstep and trespass on areas of our lives. And because we don’t want to be “that guy” we just suck it up and we don’t tell them that what they just did what hurtful and insensitive. We assume that they know what they have done and how it affected us. They don’t and they won’t until you tell them. They will continue to do it until you have a blow out or walk away from the relationship, job or friendship. Having clear boundaries is not only telling people how you want to be treated but enforcing it by consequences. This doesn’t mean you have to be mean or ugly about it, boundaries ensure that you can tell people before it becomes charged with emotion. They may get angry about the fact that they are no longer allowed access to that part of you, but if they value the relationship they will make the adjustments.
These three steps slow our reactive natures down long enough to get understanding and clarity about situations that could quickly escalate into negative loops that destroy relationships. When we slow down and get curious about what it going on and take responsibility for our part in it and are clear about our boundaries and expectations we see it coming in slow motion which gives us time to do the honourable thing.
What gets you emotionally charged? What are you going to do about it?