Last Saturday I got a phone call from a relative who was experiencing computer problems and they needed help. Computers are not this person’s thing, so when something with their computer goes wrong, it’s a catastrophe for them. This case was no exception. They were frustrated, stressed out, worked up, and not handling it very well.
As I was helping them solve their computer issue, it would have been easy to let this person’s stress and negative energy cause me to become stressed out and irritable as well. (In the past, that’s exactly what I would have done!) But a negative response to a stressful situation is not a forgone conclusion, it’s a choice.
I think that’s good news! If our negative response to a stressful situation is a choice, that means we can choose to respond positively instead.
Other people don’t make us behave poorly or bring out the worst in us. The more accurate statement is that we chose to behave poorly around them.
While that comment stings a little, it also reminds me that other people don’t have control over how I respond to them, unless I hand control over to them. Ultimately, we are each responsible for our responses, regardless of the influence of others. And for that, I’m thankful.
The next time you feel yourself getting stressed out or worked up because of someone else’s negative influence, pause for a moment and remember that how you respond is your choice. Then, choose how you ‘d like to respond.
“When emotion goes up, intelligence goes down.” ~Mari Smith; Social Media Thought Leader
When I heard this quote from Mari Smith on the Entreleadership Podcast, I was instantly able to recall several accounts from my own life when I’ve been in this very situation. I cringed, because, unfortunately, those have not been some of my finest moments!
What about you? Have you ever been in a position where you feel the emotion rising, while at the same time your intelligence waning? It’s not a good feeling. Historically, I haven’t realized this was occurring until after the conversation or interaction where it occurred. By then, it’s too late to change course because common sense and better judgement have already left the station.
So what can we do to keep from losing our minds when we notice our emotions starting to heat up? Here are 7 suggestions to keep emotions from depleting our intelligence.
- Know the types of interactions that cause you to become emotionally charged so that you can either avoid them or be aware of the possibility of reacting emotionally.
- Know how you react physically when you’re emotionally charged. Do your hands get sweaty, your face get warm, or you ears get hot? Knowing how you react can help you identify when you’re becoming emotionally charged.
- Determine in advance how you will respond when you feel yourself becoming emotionally charged. If we don’t know how we’ll respond in that moment, we’ll likely put ourselves on auto pilot and let emotions take over. Usually not a good option.
- In the moment, take a few deep breaths. I know this sounds cliché, but it works.
- Put things in perspective. Ask yourself what’s at stake and determine if it’s really worth getting worked up for.
- Look for something positive like humor, a silver lining, or opportunities to connect with the other side on a human level.
- Decide not to get worked up. This may sound hard, but we have far more control over our emotions than we realize.
There seems to be no shortage of things to spin us up and charge our emotions. The good news is that this gives us a lot of opportunity to practice the tips above.
Being emotionally charged up and momentarily losing our intelligence does not help us to be at our best. Decide today to be in charge of your emotions and not a follower of them. That sounds good to me, because I can’t afford to lose any of the precious little intelligence I have!