Tuesday, March 7, 2017 2:02 pm
By Damilola Ojo
Emotions can be very fickle. One moment you are feeling this way and the next you aren’t. They can also be extremely powerful and forceful, to the point that you feel you have no choice but to cave in. Emotions of embarrassment, anger, anxiety and fear are some of the most difficult to control. Here are five ways to be strong, take the wheel and control these emotions without giving in to them.
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE EMOTION
One of the ways to deal with these emotions is to accept responsibility for their existence, says Joseph Grenny in his article for the Harvard Business Review. You should understand and accept that the emotions are about you, and are not the effect or cause of any external factor.
For example, if you have been scolded by your boss and are angry at his criticism you should consider that based on his personality, his scolding could either have resulted from feelings of curiosity, surprise and compassion, or they could have been from prejudice, resentment and anger. The fact that you chose to believe it was out of the later is more about you, than about your boss. This is what you have to take responsibility for, understand and deal with.
WHICH STORY DO YOU TELL YOURSELF?
When faced with emotions of embarrassment, anger, anxiety and fear, which story do you tell yourself? Is it the victim’s story – one that upholds your virtues and absolves you of responsibility? Is it the villain’s story – one that exaggerates the faults of others and attributes the situation or incident to their evil prejudicial motives? Or is it the helpless story – one that concludes that healthy courses of action like humbly listening, speaking up honestly etc., are pointless? Identifying the story you tell yourself will better help you detach enough from the situation to reflect, take control of your emotions and face the truth of the situation. Then, you can react to it better.
ASK YOURSELF QUESTIONS
Ask yourself questions about the event, situation or incident that made you feel the emotions of embarrassment, anger, anxiety and fear. Ask yourself difficult questions to get to the root of the matter and be brave enough to answer truthfully.
One of the best ways to do this is by asking questions like “What am I pretending not to know about my role or fault in this situation?” (This question will attack your victim story). “Would a reasonable, rational and decent person say or do this?” Why would a reasonable, rational and decent person say or do this?” (This question attacks your villain story), and “What’s the right thing to do to achieve what I really want?” (This question attacks your helpless story).
Pondering on these questions will help you better see your faults, the faults of the other person and will help you release the emotions of embarrassment, anger, anxiety and fear as you determine the right thing to do. Remember, ask questions rather than present your defense.
UNDERSTAND WHY YOU THINK AND REACT THE WAY YOU DO
As we grow, we learn to tell ourselves certain stories to protect our ‘safety’ and ‘self-worth’. For example, being bullied when you were younger or having parents that criticized more than they commended you, tends to make your brain code conditions or situations like this or related to this as threatening. You thus begin to react to these conditions or situations defensively, unable to see it objectively.
To control your reactions to these situations and conditions, you need to do some soul searching and identify these triggers. After identifying them, it is easier to be more objective and challenge the perception that your safety and self-worth are at risk in these situations and conditions.
To help with this, you can develop a mantra and recite it in times or situations that seem to threaten your safety and self-worth. Mantras like “Be logical, be objective”, “Be humble. Be calm. I won’t let this hurt me” can help. It also helps to keep in mind the personality of the person or people criticizing you. It is easier to listen to them if you know and respect them.
FORGIVE YOUR EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS AND BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Even after understanding your emotional triggers for thinking and reacting the way you do, chances are you are occasionally going to lose control and give into them without realizing. You shouldn’t beat yourself up for this and give into self-loathing. You also shouldn’t start to wonder about the problem with yourself and personality. The fact that certain things happened to you in the past is not your fault, and they certainly don’t make you weird or abnormal. Everyone has a past and ‘things’ have happened to everybody, you’re not the only one, you should therefore be strong, forgive yourself and work on moving on from it so you are no longer controlled by it. As you forgive, you will find yourself dissociating from the harsh feelings.
–Damilola Ojo, Jumia Travels, 08101556883