Posts Tagged ‘anger’

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.

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Are you secretly seething? Do you struggle to keep your cool? Then this blog post is for you from @halcyonglobal

 

 

 

Photo by Kyle Glenn via Unsplash

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.

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

 

 

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