Have you ever been so caught up in your anger that you can’t let it go?
Your anger, if unmanaged, ages you faster, slows the healing process, and gives you trouble developing friendships.
Most of us have some anger issues, especially when we are around people that annoy us. I have a friend who can’t stand a client that he works for. He tells me about his annoying voice and all his stupid requests. When he retells his stories we laugh about his client’s personality.
It made me think about how my friend uses our conversations to create emotional space. Emotional and physical space are really all about perception.
Back in 1910, people thought New York was so very far from Paris. It takes 5 days to travel by boat in 2010. In 1910 it must have taken over a week. Now it’s a little over seven hour plane ride. That’s 1/24th of the time.
I used to think that the day was so long when I had to work side by side with an annoying co-worker; now an annoying person can actually be fun. You will learn a few techniques that will help you accelerate your emotional space, teaching you how to improve friendships and your happiness.
Processing your emotions
In order to accelerate your emotional space, you must learn to process your feelings so lightning fast that it takes very little time to get yourself feeling good again.
This is very important at work because we often have to deal with difficult people and projects that wreak havoc on our emotions and health.
If you can’t process your emotions quickly you are more prone to stress.
“75%-90% of all doctor visits, medical and psychological, are now recognized as stress related.”
- Washington Athletic Club
Last year I went to the doctor because my left arm was going numb. I was stressed out because of a big project I was working on. I was letting worry get the best of me.
Think of all the headaches, backpain, and colds you’ve had, many of these symptoms are caused by stress. Stress can suppress the immune system if you don’t figure out a way to work through your emotions.
Watch, laugh and enjoy.
I worked for a small company a few years back. There was one woman who scratched my nerves every time she talked. She never had a kind word to say; just complaining came out of her. Those first few months were hard, but it became a part of the story.
I actually wrote a novel about her. It was a fictional love story, but it forced me to look at my life as a narrative. I wrote a story of us falling in love. It was a blast to write. I’m still waiting on a publisher. 🙂 Know anyone?
By thinking of myself as a character in a story, I stopped attaching myself to the situation in my life. I created this emotional distance so I could process the feelings. It’s why I call my fear/resistance my arch nemesis. I have an easier time processing my feelings.
When she would annoy me by cutting me off in mid-sentence to tell me another tale about drinking with her sister at the bar, I watched my feelings. The anger would rise. In my head I complained about every little detail - from her lack of social skills to the ugly puke green outfits that she loved to wear.
I was taking this situation too seriously, so I created a plan to help me create emotional space. I would imagine myself hovering twenty yards (20 meters) above watching myself as I stewed in my anger every time she bothered me. After doing this a few times I began to see the same pattern repeat. I watched how my co-workers dealt with her. They didn’t have any better luck, but I noticed that I actually had fun watching them interact with her. She would walk up to them with a question and I sat back as I watched the exchange. They would usually walk away shaking their head.
I chuckled to myself because I felt the same way. I realized that if I can laugh at them then I can laugh at myself. The next time she came to ask for help I was there, but not there. It was like I was floating above watching someone else.
Over the next few years I developed my superpower of floating above myself and laughing at my reactions. I watched how I got upset then I reminded myself to laugh. Before she left I ultimately found my key to enjoying her for who she was not who I wanted her to be. She became a one person show in my story.
Now I use this method to create emotional space in almost every difficult situation I’m caught in.
The Right Questions
The most important part of learning to create space from the pain, so you can process it, is to ask the right questions. The right questions are key. If you keep asking yourself, “Why does (insert annoying person’s name) keep making me so upset?” Your only looking for more problems.
You must create questions that will help steer your brain in a more positive direction.
Let’s try this mini relaxation. I like to call it “Floating Laughter.”
Imagine watching yourself floating twenty yards (or meters) above the difficult situation. How do you feel? (i.e. I felt angry when she talked).
Why do you feel this way? (i.e. She is selfish).
Now add a “but.” (i.e. but she is probably lonely and just wants attention).
By finding compassion for the other person as well as yourself, you create even more space.
So now that you have a little emotional space look back at your anger and say or think to yourself, “When I was (insert feeling here) I didn’t create enough space. It was actually funny when I (insert reaction).”
When you are able to separate from the pain, you can reflect on the situation. Once you’re in reflection mode, that’s when you have a choice. You can choose to focus on the pain or you can choose to focus on what is funny about your response.
When you choose to focus on what is funny about the situation, you will create a stronger and happier you.
It sounds simple, but it’s takes some practice. I don’t want you to think this is easy because working with your emotions is tricky. They are sneaky and they will often try to redirect you.
Try to make it a game. Every time you get upset over someone else’s reactions, make a little notch on a piece of paper. If this happens three times, just smile big. So big it hurts. Chuckle at yourself for letting someone else dictate your happiness.
You must practice this for at least thirty straight days before it becomes a skill, and a couple of years before it becomes a superpower. But once you harness this power, you will find it much easier to enjoy the present moment, even when you have an annoying client bugging you about every little problem.
Watch your emotions
Laugh at your response
Enjoy the feelings for what they are
Your emotions can either push you around or you can use them to slingshot yourself into a better place.
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* Marelisa of the Abundance Blog has an article about igniting your creativity. Learn how to use mystery in your business/career and you'll learn how to keep people wanting more.
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8 thoughts on “Why You Must Learn to Accelerate Emotional Space”
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I like your idea of detaching yourself from the situation (yet staying compassionate) when you find yourself "stuck" with an annoying coworker. One way of letting go of the anxious or angry thoughts whirling around and around in the brain is to write about them in a journal. You can visualize the thoughts and feelings pouring out of your brain and onto the page--sort of like transferring files you don't really need onto a memory stick-- so they are no longer taking up space in the brain's "hard drive".
Another way of dealing with annoying or stressful workplace situations is to imagine a bubble or circle or shield (whatever image works) or around you that doesn't allow negative or annoying energy to get through and affect you. I've found it's best (and more compassionate) to imagine that the negative energy just slides off into the ground to be recycled and in return the shield around you sends back positive energy to the person. And yes, sometimes the latter part of the strategy is easier said than done!
Have a great day.
I love space in any and every area of my life... it lets us think clearer, and act more consciously. This way instead of reacting to people or situations and perhaps getting into situations of regret, I allow some space in... and then a conscious moment appears, and I get to act with conscious awareness.
My emotional response is way better and it allows me to avoid a lot of unnecessary pain, or stress, etc.
Great message on emotional space.... this lesson as many of yours can help people not just in their jobs, but in other parts of their life too.
Hi Sue, Ahh, the "Invisible Shield" is a good one too. I like to use this one when I need to focus very deeply to finish an important task. Our imaginations are very important to staying on task. If we don't have fun with our emotions then we are just putting in the time. When we take our emotions into consideration we can create a mindset that's much more productive and happy.
Hi Evita, You make a good point. We have more time to think when we have space. It's this spacial thinking that will allow a person to choose his attitude instead of letting his emotions choose it for him.
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Karl, this is awesome! I love your post, especially about making the lady into a character in your story, and then choosing your response. This is great! I will pass this onto some of my friends who will appreciate this also! It helps to have this sort of perspective. I tend to protect myself within my inner circle from dramatic and/or negative people; however, this is a great alternate approach and puts the power back into our center field, especially in the midst of conversation! 😉 I like the floating laughter idea also. Thank you for this article! Have a super duper weekend! 😉 xx Jenn
Hi Jenn, Your comment made my day. By using our imaginations to create levity we find ways to improve our ability to be compassionate and creative with our thoughts and feelings. When I started using the floating laughter technique it felt a bit uncomfortable, but after a few times it became much easier. If you give it a go let me know how it makes you feel. I always love to hear how people use and adjust ideas to fit their needs.
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