Have you noticed how there are certain emotions that you continue to expereince during your day-to-day at work? Like for example, every time you hear the phone ring first thing in the morning as you`re settling in to your work station, you feel dread. Each time an email bounces, you feel frustrated. And each time a paper crams in the printer, you feel your face heat up in anger.
Like Pavlov`s dogs, whenever `this` happens, you feel `this` emotion.
Day in and day out, you feel the same emotions, as if they were being fed to you on a conveyor belt. Days, months, years – and a life time goes by – while you experience the same emotional routine, the same song & dance.
Surely there`s a way to end the (emotional) ground-hog day. Surely.
So how do you break the cycle? As I found out, it`s a matter of digging deep into your little voice. Doing so may not be easy, but it is possible.
First, some back ground. What you experience, or how you behave and react to a situation is directly related to what you think about the situation. Trouble is, our brains produce thoughts at a speed that makes it hard for us to single them out and examine them. In other words, our brain does not produce a thought at snail pace – then gives us time to analyze it before it hits us with the next one. Rather our active brains, tend to be hyperactive. It`s the speed at which thoughts are produced that makes it hard for us to single out a single thought. Even so, it is possible to do.
Next time you feel angry, in the midst of your tantrum, with your face feeling hot, try to tune into to your little voice. Ask yourself: “What am I thinking right now?” Dig deeper. Ask yourself: “What exactly am I thinking about this situation?” Go even deeper. Ask yourself: “What is at the core of this situation? What really is bothering me?”
It was taking time to tune into my thoughts (face feeling hot and all) that I discovered the cause of an anger routine that has been repeating itself for years in my life. Now I know that whenever something small goes wrong at work – like a paper jams inside the printer or an email bounces – I feel frustrated because deep down inside (yes, you gotta go deep), I dread solving the problem. Aha!
In the case of a paper jam, deep down inside I dread walking to the printer (which in my last job was all of 20 paces away, and took 3 seconds), opening it up (5 seconds), and removing the paper from the tray (20 seconds, tops). After doing the math, I realized that quite often I was spending much longer feeling angry than what it took me to solve the problem! Ironic, wouldn’t you say?
It was going through this process that I finally understood that anger, frustration, dread and anxiety do not solve a thing. Not a single thing. Rather, these negative emotions take up real-estate in my brain, and suck energy and time away from me. All resources I could use towards solving the situation that made me angry, frustrated, anxious in the first place.
What can you do right now to change your emotional song & dance? How deep are you willing to go?