Do you ever wish that you could pause a situation, rewind and pull back what you just said or did? There are certainly days that I wish that I could reverse time and have a “do-over” of a conversation or situation. Sometimes words seem to fall out of our mouths, and we wish you could grab them back. What if you could prevent this? Read on!
While we can’t change the past, we can slow down upcoming exchanges and events to avert some of the blunders that inescapably take place. How do you slow time? If you have been following the last few of my blogs, you know that it takes Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is when you become aware of your emotions and manage your emotions. Emotions are what dictate how we feel and subsequently what we say and do. Becoming progressively more astute about what you are feeling requires that you “slow down time” and widen the gap between what happened and your reaction to what happened.
The gap you say?
Yes, there is a little space that I want you to check out. You want to scrutinize what transpired after an incident and before a reaction. That minuscule second of time between the two is the chief segment of time that we want to examine.
Find your false story in the gap
When examining this chunk of time, you are looking to deduce what happened after an incident and what story you made up about that incident. It is that story that resulted in the feeling and then the reaction that you next had. I use the word “story” for a reason. Some may say, truth. However, it isn’t the truth. It is only our truth. It is the story we make up.
Let's break it apart a little bit further
Part One – The incident
Part Two – Enter into the gap – The thought
What we mistakenly think happens after the incident is that we have a reaction. What is more accurate is that there is a gap of time after the incident, but before the reaction. In that time, much transpires inside your mind and through your body.
When that thing occurred;
Usually, it’s not a conscious thought. In most cases, you aren’t even remotely aware that there was anything going on, but trust me, it's there.
During this gap you have thoughts such as:
Part Three – Still in the gap – The feeling
The thought about the incident then creates the feeling. You experience fear, anxiety, or frustration. That feeling is felt in your body.
Part Four – The reaction
It is the thought and the feeling about the incidence that dictates the way you respond or react. This includes what you say and what you do.
A reaction is unconscious.
A response is conscious
Those times when the words fall out of our mouth, and we wish we could grab them back are usually reactions. When we get angry over someone’s insensitive comment, it’s usually because we weren’t able to process the thoughts and feelings attached to that hot spot they just hit. Thus, we lash back hurtfully.
REDO of Part Four – The response
When we widen that gap of time between what happened and our subsequent actions, we can first get clear on the story we are making up in our head and our feelings attached to that story. When we do that, we have a choice to believe that story or alter it.
The same could be true at work. Perhaps you feel that your boss is attacking you and your feeling backed into a corner. The reaction might be to get angry and come out fighting. Instead, by widening that gap, your subsequent thoughts and feelings can be different.
A person with high Emotional Intelligence might notice:
"I’m feeling attacked and notice my body getting into fight or flight mode. Wait a minute. I know I’m a good person. I think maybe what he’s really trying to say is more about the project and not me. It might be his fear of failure coming through. We are actually on the same side. I sure as heck don’t want this project to fail at this either."
Our response, after this thoughtful pause in our minds, will across more in control than with fists flying. The words that consciously come out of our mouth, rather than fall out, will serve to move the project and the relationship forward.
Increase Awareness Means Increased Control
When you are more aware, mindful and conscious, you get to choose your response. This increased awareness and choice of action is Emotional Intelligence. Not only are you aware of your emotions, but you are managing them. This increased awareness allows you to examine your thoughts and feelings and decide if they are true. Then, you can change them in you want. What you’ll find if you do this more and more, is that a lot of your thoughts and feelings are very unhelpful, and you’ll want to do some work on changing them!
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.