Three Steps to Emotional Peace
Do you know what it feels like when you are at peace…with yourself and the rest of the world? Nothing rattles you. Your mother could tell you that you aren’t good enough and it would bounce off of you; a colleague could comment on your ‘interesting choice of clothing’ and you’d say thank you, and you’d look at your never-ending to-do list with a content smile. Feeling this way, is not some fairytale but could be your everyday life.
In this blog I walk you through the steps I learned to deal with my emotions nudging myself closer every day to a place of immense inner peace.
First Step: Acknowledge Your Emotions
The pathway to peace can be quite uncomfortable at first, as we must acknowledge our emotions and put awareness to them. For instance, if you’re feeling sad, it is not enough to just say…”I don’t want to be sad so I’m going to feel happy.” We need to sit with the sadness and ask the deeper questions. We need to understand that if we don’t deal with it now, we’ll continue to get mad about these types of situations over and over again.
Any time something triggers you – i.e. you get angry, sad, frustrated, etc. is not because the other person did something ‘wrong’ but rather they did something that triggers an old wound within you.
Some people refer to this as ‘shadows’, the dark emotions we keep in our soul’s basement hoping that they’d never emerge. Psychologist Carl Jung’s model of the shadow arises from the human subconscious/unconscious. He states “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it.
Example: You give constructive feedback to a member of your team who starts crying. What?! You get frustrated and think “really, that’s so not worth any tears! What’s your problem?!” Why are you getting so frustrated about the other person’s tears? Something is triggering YOU.
Second Step: Understanding What’s Triggering Your Reaction
Over the last two years I’ve paid a lot of attention to the things that rattle me and rather than giving into the emotion (which often seems a lot easier) I do my best going through the process, first acknowledging the emotion and then taking full responsibility for my reactions. It’s easy to think that the other person or situation that is causing you suffering is the one to blame, but that’s not true. So keep digging.
In our earlier example you may ask yourself “why does it bother me so much that my employee is crying for something that seems so trivial?” And as you think about it you come to a realization…you grew up in a home where talking about feelings frustrated your parents. You have been told that crying is a sign of weakness. Now you’re on to something!
How to Dig Deeper to Uncover the Hidden Story
To uncover the true source of the reaction/emotion, you might consider asking the following questions:
Which aspect of this situation really bugs me?
Would this make me as mad/sad/ (fill in the blank) if this was another person or is it just him/her?
What other memories do I have associated with this problem? Did this come up when I was a child or during moments of hardship? If so when and how?
Are one of my needs or values being threatened (need for love, worthiness, and belonging)? If so which one?
Most often I discover old memories that go back to childhood. The way my parents reacted (or didn’t react) in certain situations, being poked at or ridiculed in school, interactions between my siblings or friends…the list goes on and on.
Once you’ve figured out where the trigger originated you want to look at that situation more closely. Is the belief you created in that moment(s) the only way to look at that situation? If you looked at it from an outsider perspective, what other reasons exist that the situation unfolded the way it did? It’s key to understand that there’s always more than one perspective, so what other angles/viewpoints can you see as part of the situation?
Talking to Ann Herrmann, CEO of Herrmann International, publisher of the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI®), she shared that to illustrate this point she asks her audience to imagine a living room. She then encourages them to view this room from the perspective of a thief, then from an interior designer, and then from a cleaner. Putting yourself into other people’s shoes is crucial to overcoming your own old beliefs.
Third Step: Is it True?
Once you’ve uncovered other perspectives recognize that your view of the world may not have been right, and if your view wasn’t right back then, doesn’t it mean that your emotional reaction to today’s situation may not be warranted either? For instance, you may have heard your dad say “don’t be a wuss” when you started crying and made the assumptions that crying equals weakness but through further reflection you see that your dad may have only said that because that’s how his parents talked to him or because he didn’t know how to console you in a loving way. If you grew up with a different dad who felt crying is important to release your emotions, would you still feel the same way about crying? And if so, would you feel frustrated with the team member in front of you?
Breathe, be grateful for the work you just did, and feel good that you’re one step closer to being at peace with the world. Realizing this can be detailed and ongoing emotional work, feel free to reach out to our JOYVIAL for assistance in processing these stuck emotions.