In a world filled with so many personalities, emotions and social interactions, how does one succeed at managing one’s own emotions and oftentimes deal with those of others?
The one liner answer is: Become a neutral witness of them.
It’s hard at first, but that’s why people say practice makes perfect, right? Although don’t focus on the perfect part but mostly on the practice bit 🙂 Whatever your situation is today, you can too work on being the master of your emotions, especially the negative ones. Not only will this allow you to understand and see your emotions for what they are, but it will also help you deal with “difficult” people in a way that’s calm and compassionate.
Here is a simple process we do to keep our emotions in check. Let us take anger as our focus:
1. Observe how anger feels in the body and how it arises in the mind; simply look at the emotion without judging. Breathing deeply during those moments helps.
2. Avoid associating yourself with the emotion. Remind yourself that this anger you appear to be experiencing is not an integral part of what you really are, it is something that arises in the mind only. At that moment, switch the story from “I am angry” to “There is anger in my mind and body”. This is a key difference: if you are your emotions much like physiological needs, you have little control over them, but if they are simply an experience that is not part of your core being, it means you can decide how to respond to them.
3. Create space. When you step back and observe, you create some room between the emotion and you. This space gives you tremendous choice in how to respond, and in this ability to choose, you find your power, your freedom and most importantly your peace of mind.
Simple, right? Now to the challenging but most important part: Give this process a try when you have the opportunity, because surely there will be many.
Don’t forget to continuously scan your emotions throughout the day everyday, so as soon as a negative feeling shows up, be ready to observe it, look at it for what it is and choose a wise, calm way to respond.
Thomas & Ruth