Posts Tagged ‘anger’

When you let their mood affect you

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

David’s first waking thought every weekday morning was to wonder what sort of mood his boss would in and how much conflict he'd have to deal with that day. On the train in to work, his mind would whir with all the previous few days' interactions with his boss, hunting for clues as to the atmosphere in the office and preparing for the worst.

For when his boss was in a bad mood, it affected David’s whole day, so he spent a great deal of time thinking about how he could ensure he didn't provoke him, but ended up feeling defensive and edgy whenever they had a meeting. David would hide these feelings behind a well-practised smile when he was at work, only letting his guard down when he got home, where he often found himself taking out his frustrations on his wife and kids.

When David attended a recent War to Peace® workshop, he realised that his moods had been tethered to his boss's and he had been blaming his boss for his own edginess; he had been trying to appease his boss instead of working on the thing he did have control over – himself.

Control the Controllables

We may never know why someone is moody and our attempts to appease them can in fact escalate their mood. David had been angry because he felt that it was unprofessional for his boss to be so erratic. However, he came to realise that it was far easier to look at his own mood than to attempt change his boss's.

Think about the weather. Whilst you might prefer the sun to shine warmly from a clear blue sky, sometimes it’s cloudy or rainy instead. Of course there is no way of controlling the weather, so if it looks inclement, you take precautions such as carrying an umbrella or wearing an extra layer or two. It might be disappointing if an outdoor event you had planned is rained off, but you find something else to do indoors.

In other words, you control the controllables.

So, whilst his boss’s moods might not be what David would want to encounter, he doesn't need to take them on board.  Today, David is finding being at work much easier, having experienced how to choose his own mood in several ways at the War to Peace® workshop. His boss continues to be erratic, but David puts up his metaphorical umbrella and carries on with his day and no longer allows it to affect him. His family are feeling the benefits too!

Over to you

  1. The next time you feel at the mercy of someone else’s mood, stop and focus your attention on what is within your control.
  2. Notice the thoughts you are having about your day and the people around you. The mood you are in is a great indicator of whether there is too much noise and chatter in your head. Simply noticing your thoughts allows them to pass.
  3. Notice how your body feels and check in with what it needs. All the wisdom you ever need is inside you; you simply need to get better at acknowledging its presence.
  4. What you are thinking, feeling, saying and doing is always within your control - what everyone else is doing is not. Where do you want to focus your energy and attention today?

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace®?

If you know someone who would benefit from learning how to control the controllables in their interactions with their colleagues, family or friends,  our next open-access War to Peace® workshop is in London this Friday 5 October (just 3 spaces left). To book a space, click here.

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©Halcyon Global 2018

What is being ‘professional’ costing you?

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

In Nina's new management role, she quickly earned a reputation for being calm and 'professional'. You see Nina had long ago learned to suppress her real self at work because the real Nina is colourful and loud, and she commands attention by simply walking into the room.

Nina learned the hard way as a child that expressing her emotion would invite conflict from her peers and her family. So she quickly learned to bite her tongue when she was aggrieved. So 'calm and professional' Nina puts on her mask as she steps into the office each day and regularly experiences anger rising up in her throat whenever her needs are overlooked or her ideas are stolen, but each time she swallows it down, often finding herself suffering from throat infections, especially when she takes time out for a holiday.

After years of practice, Nina had begun to notice that her mask was no longer reserved just for work. Despite being a natural people person, she revealed that if she ever felt hurt or upset, she would avoid social situations for fear of accidentally letting her true feelings slip, or otherwise she would have to put on the mask again, which left her feeling exhausted. After years of this behaviour, Nina recognised that she had become defensive, angry and suspicious of others and found her way to a War to Peace® workshop.

During a conversation about the ‘Unlucky 7’ signs of being in conflict, Nina's ears pricked up when she heard that one of the signs is ‘I gather allies and evidence to prove that I am right.’ She realised that this is exactly what she did at school when she felt she had been wronged. She would tell her friends what had happened, they would take ‘sides’ with her and invariably, a small disagreement would escalate into a row which would last for weeks between factions of classmates.

Nina was also relieved to learn that she wasn't the only one who gathers evidence to prove she is right about the people she is in conflict with and she shared that, as an adult, her reaction is to sit and wallow in her 'rightness', leaving her mind whirring with all the things she wished she said when the conflict first arose. At the War to Peace® workshop she experienced a completely new way of dealing with this and vowed to come up with her own version that would help her release upset, instead of holding it in or gathering evidence and allies as she had done in the past.

Four months later, we heard from a very relaxed and much more outgoing Nina, who shared that she had made an agreement with a highly trusted friend to be each other’s 'occasional rant partner’. The simple rules were that one could phone the other and ask permission to rant. The other person would make sure they were out of earshot of anyone else and then the caller had three minutes to shout, swear, scream and, well, rant about something that had upset them. The rant partner would listen, not interrupt and would let them know that their rant had been heard. Crucially, the rant was never mentioned again or brought up in conversation in the future (it would be so easy to become an ally after all). The rant was treated purely as a vent and its contents were not given importance.

Nina told us that it felt as though the large, familiar lump had finally cleared from her throat. Whenever she got angry and ranted, she didn’t feel the need to gather allies or to wallow in the evidence that she was ‘right’. She felt seen by her friend, was able to let it go, and then was far better equipped to objectively assess the situations that had caused the rage. And she would witness her friend too, so instead of being the moaning partners and allies they had once been to each other, they were supporting each other in a far more helpful way. Nina has also given us permission to share that after many years of singledom, she is now dating - and has been leaving her mask at home!

Over to you

When do you find yourself wearing a mask? Could you benefit from having a rant partner instead of an ally? Identify someone today who could fulfil that role for you.

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace®?

If you know someone who would benefit from this work, our next open-access War to Peace® workshop is on 5 October and we have just nine spaces left. To book your place, click here.

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©Halcyon Global 2018

Are you secretly seething?

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

Just the thought of them is enough to get your hackles up. And you have to see them soon so you're already working out your strategy. You find them entering your thoughts at random times of the day, you imagine what you will say to them when you next see them - you long to put them in their place once and for all.

You fantasise about yelling at them and telling them in no uncertain terms all the things you've always wanted to say, but you don't want them to know they've got to you, so instead you work out how you can intellectually outwit them instead. Or perhaps, this time, you will be more subtle in how you show them your disappointment in them. These thoughts whir round and round in your head, and you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about them.

Angry man: Are you secretly seething?You're secretly seething and you still don't know what you're going to do about it.

We suppress our emotions, yet they still disable us

For many of us, having grown up in an era of personal development and with the phrase ‘emotional intelligence’ being in common parlance since Daniel Goldman coined the term in the 90s, we have learned to contain our feelings about our obnoxious work colleague, family member or neighbour, or at least self-manage (often through gritted teeth) in their presence so we don’t appear to be the one with the problem.

So we may not be someone who is openly hostile, getting into heated arguments and forcing our opinion down someone else’s throat, but containing ourselves and keeping a lid on our emotions is still costing us. Instead of shouting and raging at them we may have managed to avoid having an outburst, but these kind of encounters leave us feeling drained, upset, vowing to avoid them or heading to the nearest bottle of wine to drown our sorrows.

It’s inevitable that, at times, we’ll come across other people whom we experience as unfair, incompetent, arrogant or simply downright annoying. And no matter how emotionally intelligent we are, the way some people behave would drive a saint to lose their cool.

Repressed emotion breeds conflict

You’re not alone. In almost every workshop we hold, it only takes one person to talk about their feelings of pent-up rage about someone they work with, or encounter in their personal life, for a unison of nods from the other participants. We know it's no longer acceptable to have an emotional outburst in the workplace or with our in-laws so when we find ourselves riled up by someone, we often feel doubly resentful that we've had to hold it all in - or we have an acute sense of disappointment about ourselves for letting them get under our skin in the first place. Regardless of how incompetent, annoying, unfair (add in your own descriptor) they are, we know that resenting them isn’t the best course of action, especially when it inevitably tips over into sniping or point scoring, either directly toward them, or to those closest to us.

And so you add another layer of conflict to the feelings you’re already experiencing, meaning a whole lot of mental energy is being wasted and results in you losing focus, reducing your capacity to shine, taking it out on other people, or beating yourself to a small pulp.

So if you’re secretly seething, what can you do?

  1. The first step is to be honest with yourself about what’s going on for you internally. We tend to think of conflict as being characterised by overt disagreements, or even forms of aggression, like raised voices or sarcasm. But even if you are not externalising your thoughts and feelings, the fact that you’re seething inside is costing you.
  2. The second thing to remember is that this conflict and what you're feeling about it isn’t who you are. It helps us to think about it as a place we visit from time to time - we refer to this as 'being in the Red' - which means it is also a place we can move away from once we learn how. No matter how intense your internal dialogue might be at times, the “monster” who’s seething inside is not who you are as a person.
  3. The true person you are is someone at ease, with a clear head who is able to respond to others, rather than react to them, even when they are behaving in ways that you don't like or agree with. We refer to this as being in the Green. This may not sound familiar to you right now, but you will have experienced this many times in your life when interacting with people you enjoy being with, when you are not policing yourself, and you are simply being you.

Moving forward

If you want to learn what secretly seething is costing you, and how to find your way back to your true self, join us for our next public workshop, which is in London on Friday this week. We have just two spaces left and you can book your place here.

Over to you

Can you relate to secretly seething? What impact did it have and what are your own tips for overcoming it?

We'd love to hear from you in the comments.

War to Peace® workshops

We run our award-winning War to Peace workshops a few times per year in London and these are open to anyone to attend. We also run in-house workshops and programmes for organisations all over the world, so if you want your people to thrive and work better together, click here to get in touch or call us on +44 (0) 20 8191 7072.

To be the first to hear about our new open-access workshop dates, and get free monthly tips and strategies for your relationship challenges, just leave your name and email address below.

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When just one word can make all the difference…

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Maria was kicking herself. Hard.

“I should phone my mum more often, I know I should. If I phoned her more often, we’d have a better chance of understanding each other. I should just get my act together and phone her.”

Janet counselled her. “She should be phoning you! You should stop feeling so blooming guilty the whole time!”

Mike, Maria’s brother, chimed in. “She’s right you know. As our mother, she should be phoning us more often. It’s not like the phone only works one way. She should show us she cares once in a while and get in touch!”

That tantalising word ‘should’. How we like to judge ourselves – and others – by its standards. The moment the word is uttered, it adds weight to the opinion it accompanies by its assumption of an agreed social norm. But who says? Who says Maria ‘should’ phone her mum more often? Who says she ‘should’ stop feeling guilty? And who says that Maria’s mum ‘should’ show her children that she cares? Was there a meeting that we missed?

More often than not, when we use the word ‘should’ about ourselves or others, we are actually accessing an authoritative voice from our past. Next time you find yourself saying it, stop and notice whose voice that ‘should’ has in your head. Is it one of your parents? A teacher or a priest perhaps? Or is it the voice of the author of an article you have read?

The source of the 'should'

Of course, finding the source of the ‘should’ doesn’t make it any more right or wrong, but it does give us the chance to examine it for truth. If it is a message we absorbed critically when we were small, it might be that its guidance no longer fits our current reality, or perhaps it needs some modification.

Finding ourselves saying ‘should’ gives us an opportunity to discover what is important for us, and it also enables us to switch off the inner critic that so often clouds our perception. If Maria stopped to examine her statements, she might realise that the source of the ‘should’ has the voice of her domineering grandfather or her well-meaning friends. She might find this gives her some relief from the guilt as she sees that her ‘should’ is only the opinion of a small handful of people and not an unwritten law, and this relief might open her up to the possibility of replacing ‘should’ with ‘could’. She might then arrive at the conclusion that she could carry on as she has been doing, with the result of feeling estranged from her mum, or she could phone her more regularly with the hope that they become closer as a result.

A new course of action

Mike might realise that the condemning ‘should’ of his mother is his actually wife’s voice, who feels resentful that her mother-in-law doesn’t visit her grandchildren more often. He could choose to share her disdain, he could discuss the problem with his mum or he could plan some day trips to get his children and their grandmother together more often.

Once ‘could’ replaces ‘should’, there is an entirely different emotional weight to almost any statement – an element of choice and empowerment, rather than obligation and control – and with it comes many more possible courses of action.

Over to you

  • Take note whenever you find yourself using the word ‘should’. Whose voice is it? Is there any truth in it? Use it as an opportunity to uncover the assumptions that you hold.
  • What happens when you replace ‘should’ with ‘could’ in the statement you just made?

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace®?

If you know someone who would benefit from recognising some alternative reasons for other people’s reactions, our last open-access War to Peace® workshop for 2017 is on 13 October and we have just ONE space left. To book your place, click here.

P.S. Pass it on!

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"When just one word can make ALL the difference to your interactions"

 

 

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©Halcyon Global 2017