The Art of Change Skills for Life

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What To Do With Your Bottled Up Feelings – Life Skills

November 16, 2009 Dealing with Difficult People Life Skills 0

frustration

Today’s post is about dealing with your bottled up feelings, and how to develop your emotional intelligence.    It is in response to a comment I received on this blog a little while back, in which a reader wrote:

I am one of those human grenades and was searching for ways to improve my emotional communication skills which are, obviously, lacking (not just the articles about self help but my skills as well).  

Could you write something on how to not take things personally, or how to, even when things are indeed personal, ignore them and go on?

In this question, my reader perfectly captures the problem people have with intense feelings.   And what’s the problem?

What’s behind the stress, tears and projection?   Simple.  By focusing on what you don’t want, and trying to stop it, you inevitably increase the intensity of it.  Your mind doesn’t respond to negatives any more successfully than a person would be at proving their innocence in the face of an accusation. That’s why we say innocent until proven guilty, instead of guilty until proven innocent!

You can’t prove what doesn’t exist, only what does.  And you can’t get what you don’t want, only what you do want. Whenever you identify what you don’t want, your focus will shift to it, not away from it, unless you determine at that very moment what you want instead.  When you tell your mind what you don’t want it to do, in a sense, you’re actually directing it to do just that.

The problem with ignoring someone becomes apparent when you consider that ignoring implies awareness that there is someone there.  So, the attempt has already failed before it’s begun.

You’ll see, I have a long collection of places I have worked at because the moment I feel someone has something “against” me, backed up by their actions, I shortly, thereafter, resign.

That’s a fine description of a flight response, part of the fight-or-flight response of stress.   Fight or flight responses indicate that a person is reacting to a perceived threat by either opposing it or trying to get away from it.  Both fighting and fleeing require energy, and  as such, stress leads to exhaustion.  Not a happy outcome, and not a necessary one either.

So what’s the perceived threat?  It’s your assumption that someone has something against you.  In other words, the threat exists not in that ‘someone,’ but in your assumption about them.  And that’s the place to begin changing your response.  Because when you project your fear of what someone is thinking onto that someone, it’s as effective as if they were doing it.

That’s true in all our relationships, I think.  The place to solve our problems with others isn’t with them, at least not initially.  The place to begin when you seek to resolve conflict of any kind, is with yourself.

I am a very caring person and in order not to give a “hard” time to anyone i swallow things, dont speak about things that upset me. They build up and… I change jobs.

What you’re describing here is the plight of the nice person in a world that often isn’t.  You go along to get along.  You agree to avoid being disagreeable,  even when you disagree.   You aren’t able to have authentic connection, because you’re busy suppressing your true thoughts and feelings to avoid conflict.  You don’t want to rock the boat and be thrown overboard, yet  wind up throwing yourself overboard before someone else can do it.

How can I start to dare to speak about what upsets me? How can I not feel guilty about explaining how I feel and that someones words or actions hurt me? I hate admiting being hurt, and I hate crying in front of people… which is often what happens when I start telling my “agressor” how I feel… if I ever manage to do it! Yep, this has always been the point where I get stuck. Since I was a little girl. Any suggestions?

Well, yes, as a matter of fact I do!  First, call me to schedule a coaching appointment, because you can change this in yourself and have a better life.  In the meantime, here in summary are the lessons you must learn to make this change.

1. The problem for you isn’t with telling the truth about what upsets you.  It’s knowing how.  And there’s a way to tell the truth that works, based on better identification of what the truth is for starters, and what you want to have happen as a result of telling it.

2.  Feeling guilty is often nothing more than a way of paying off a debt to our conscience so we can commit the same error.  (I felt bad, so I’ve paid my debt.)  A better choice is to base your behavioral choices on your commitments.   Turning guilt into commitment is a powerful choice, in that it empowers you and the people you deal with.

3.  Crying in front of people actually works sometimes!  I know someone who got out of a speeding ticket by shedding tears before the traffic cop started writing the ticket.    I know someone else who learned a new response to her own tearfulness.  She’d say, “I realize I have tears in my eyes.  But here’s what I want you to focus on,” and then directing attention towards the present situation, the desired outcome, and ways to reduce the difference and move forward.  In other words, there is nothing inherently wrong with revealing your feelings, as long as they don’t derail you.

4.  A grenade is the descriptive term I use for the person who loses it when they don’t feel appreciated.  You can wait for the world to appreciate you (it may be a long wait) or learn to appreciate yourself.  Once you know who you are and value yourself appropriately, you’ll be amazed at how much more appreciation is available to you from the world around you.

Bottom line, these are very old patterns, reinforced in you through repetition and intensity over the years.  If you want to change them, you’ve got your work cut out for you.  But that could be fun work if it works out that you can quit running and start being more effective at having successful interactions with people, even when they are behaving badly !

Got a question of your own that you’d like answered?  Care to comment on what I’ve written here?  I’d love to hear from you.

Be well,

Rick


 

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