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Forward, Issue 009. The most uncomfortable (and promising) truth.
Read the archives.
Every time I remind myself of the following, it feels like I've taken a blunt object to the head:

Other people do not have control over our emotions.

The last time I had to remind myself of this uncomfortable truth was...checks watch...about 24 hours ago. I tell you that as a reminder that these emails are written for myself as much as they are written for anyone else. We're connected and in this together whether we realize it or not.

When other people are influencing our emotions, there are 4 things happening in quick succession. Let's take an example of a colleague or family member that says something which has the potential to make us upset in some way.
  1. The thing that is said or done to us. To state the obvious, we have no control over this.
  2. Our natural short-term response to the thing. These are the emotions that are automatic responses, which we largely have no control over. It's our blood pressure rising and our defenses being put up.
  3. Our first moment of awareness after the natural response. This is the first thing in our control. Our natural responses have bubbled up, but now we have a choice to take a brief moment to pause and recognize our own agency in the situation. It's a focused breath or two. It's a moment of pause and silence. It's a quick break from the situation at hand.
  4. The long-term response that we choose to make. This is the second thing in our control. If someone says or does something that we don't like, the decision to remain in our anger or distress is entirely up to us.
When I'm not being my best self, I let other people live rent free in my head for far too long. They didn't sign a lease or even ask to move in. I moved their things in for them.

Holding onto anger and frustration can ironically feel good, because it feels like we're doing something about the situation. But we aren't. It's the equivalent of holding a hot pan, hoping that it burns someone else. It doesn't. It only burns us.

Think of someone in your life that is the picture of tranquility. They always seem at peace with themselves and the world around them. They're the archetype of someone who doesn't get their feathers ruffled by others. And they're experts at understanding the 4 steps above.

When we detach our emotional response from the action that triggered it, we take back our own power. It doesn't mean we don't care. It doesn't mean we're aloof. And it doesn't mean we're detached from the realities of life and living among other humans.

It means that we're choosing to find our own peace within it.

The good news for all of us is that we're given ample opportunities every single day to put this into practice.

Feel the initial emotion and recognize it for what it is - a natural response.
Take the initial moment of awareness after the response to pause and breathe.
Then make the choice for yourself about how you respond.

It's the most radical form of self-care and self-love we can have, because it's the most rare.

Easier to say than do? You bet. But worth our time and attention to improve? A thousand times over.

Our own tranquility depends on it.

Have a great week my friend.

-Adam Griffin
Certified High Performance Coach™
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