Our emotions are a natural part of us-part of our appropriate coping mechanism to deal with life’s situations BUT we do best when we learn to express them, process them and then move forward. Our emotions don’t need to be in charge or run away with us. Our intellect (not to mention our body, heart, and intuition) can all be considered as we choose to ACT from our highest self or our WHOLE SELF.
This might sound hard! It is hard!
Given that dealing with our own emotions in a healthy way is something most of us learn over time and learn by practice, we don’t need to make things harder by taking on the emotions of other grown adults!
I truly consider this one of the most important life skills that is the difference
between a life of JOY and a life of STRESS.
Here are three conversations this week where I challenged client to stop taking on the responsibility of managing another’s emotions and what I suggested they try….
Situation #1: One client has a spouse that is dramatic (and stressed) about their finances. The spouse gets stressed out about money and periodically threatens to move out of the city into the woods and stop spending money on anything. Like there are only 2 choices: stay in their current city and be in debt or move to the woods and become hermits. I was super impressed by my client because she now recognizes this as ALL or NOTHING thinking and very dramatic, but the situation still made her feel stressed.
Situation #2: Another client has a business partner that has really poor time management skills which creates an inevitable PANIC when a deadline approaches. She does it every time. It completely stresses my client out.
Situation #3: My client has a friend who likes to complain about her health and how bad she feels but lives on junk food and wine. My client is in the health and wellness industry so she’s prone to try to solve the problem for her friend.
When someone can’t manage their own emotions, a common strategy to try to feel better is to elicit an emotion in another person. They try to drag someone else into their drama and the two Ego minds have a party! The brain and the body can’t tell the difference between real stress and perceived stress so whoever gets involved as the same bio-chemical response as if it is their own problem. Both parties involved can get addicted to the stress chemicals that are released.
It is a tremendous act of SELF LOVE and LOVE for your friend or family member to be the one that stops this cycle. I gave each client the same strategy:
When someone is emotional and comes to you looking to your emotional buttons…
Say What Is On Your Mind
State It Matter of Fact With No Judgment or Blame
Point Out What’s Happening and Let Your Friend Know You’re There If They Need REAL Help
Here’s what it would look like in each of the situations above.
“Honey, I know you’re scared and stressed and if you really think we need to make a life change, let’s both think about it and continue this conversation tomorrow. What I’ve seen in the past, however, is that you aren’t serious about making this change and just say things like this for effect and that makes us both feel bad. I know you don’t mean to do that, but I think we can have a different kind of conversation that would be more productive and feel better. I love you and I want you to be happy.”
“I can’t help but notice how these deadlines stress you out and I think it would really benefit you to plan ahead. If you’d like to start doing that, I’d be happy to give you ideas of how I don’t let deadlines sneak up on me. It can’t be very fun to get so worked up so let me know if you want to talk about it for next time.”
“You just said you hate yourself for not losing weight and you are so tired of lying awake at night with worry. I care about you and hate seeing you get so stressed out. You know this is my job so if you ever are serious about making changes, let me know. I’d be happy to help. (end conversation and move to a positive note)
These responses might sound basic and they might sound impossible. It’s what it called Emotional Intelligence-the ability to recognize the emotions of yourself and others, express them and in your own best interest. I encourage you to try it! Speak your truth…say the thing you would say about the situation if you were telling another party about it but SAY IT TO THE RIGHT PERSON!
Then, having said your peace, walk away and don’t take on responsibility for the outcome.
You’ve got your own Ego mind to deal with J