Thursday, July 24, 2008

Take Yourself "Out Of" Yourself

I love my son. If he's ever sick, I get slight panic attacks and I can't perform very well in the office.

I also love my pride (hopefully not more than my son). If that gets punctured in the office, the bad feelings stick and it (sadly) comes out once in a while when I'm with family.

So there are emotions which help and emotions which don't. Whenever you get hit with a bucket of the latter, it may be wise to try disassociating yourself from the event. E.g. if your daughter is sick, and you're at the office thinking about her, you'd normally 'see' her in your mind's eye (triggering the all too common apprehension, fret and uneasiness).

But instead of visualising only your daughter, try to visualise yourself and her in one mental scene. This not only takes you 'out of' your much-troubled self, it also prepares you to act thoughtfully and carefully later on.

This principle also applies to high-powered presentations or critical conversations which fill us with dread (and a bad bout of stomach gas). Seeing yourself at the presentation or scenario takes you 'out of' the episode.

Performing 'helicopter view' disassociation helps isolate and thereby control the emotional surges which tend to accompany our mental representations of such things. It doesn't change the seriousness of whatever we're thinking/worrying about. But it certainly makes us calmer and more prepared to do whatever's necessary.


Derek L. said...

Hey cousin, I gotta respectfully disagree with trying to dissociate from your emotions and trying to manage how you feel. That used to be me. Remember when I was young, I used to have a shitty temper? Well, I still do. My parents used to tell me not to lose my temper, to control my temper etc. Didn't do jack for me, except get me to bottle everything up. Kinda like a dam, with all the water pent up behind it.

Now, I still have a shitty temper. Only thing that's different now is that I don't try to distance myself from my feelings. I don't try to "not be angry". I just acknowledge my anger. Yeah, I'm angry.

I. AM. AaaaaaaNGRY!

And then I don't act on it. I don't take it out on who or what is around me. What makes me feel better is acknowledging how I feel (yeah, I'm pretty damn angry), and then taking some time to examine why I feel that way. Usually it ends up being about how I am taking something personally when it really isn't about me. Or making it mean something about me as a person, when it really isn't about me at all.

Ah I can go on about this forever :)

But yeah, embrace your feelings. It's what makes you HUMAN!

alwyn said...

hi man, in fact i think we're talking about 2 distinct issues. one is 'managing' emotions, the other is 'bottling them up'.

i totally agree that we should 'let them out' every now and then, but i also think that sometimes we need to practice some distant-iation if only to make it thru the next few hrs.

note that this NLP tactic isn't a SUBSTITUTE for talking about it, serious self-examination, reflection, etc. It's just a band-aid, but yeah sometimes we need to cut open our guts and check what's really inside.

Alex Tang said...

hi alwyn,

distancing ourselves from a potentially emotive explosive situation gives us time to deal with our emotions, and also get a new perspective by reviewing the situation. Definitely a good pyschological tool.

Derek L. said...

out the NLP tactic where you visualize your emotion as something, and then bring that something outside of yourself? Oops... Totally misinterpreted what you wrote then :P

alwyn said...

Yes, alex, it worked a bit for me (as the previous week my son was somewhat sicker than usual, sigh).

but it takes a while to overcome the 'awkwardness' of it all, as every new habit does, I suppose.

would love to hear more of yr ideas on handling emotions.

alwyn said...

derek, yes that's the one. how's the NLP craze in SFO? over in KL i get a feeling people aren't really getting 'in' to it...perhaps it's the cost, the weirdness, and the plain unfamiliarity.

maybe u can blog on some of yr own NLP-ish tactics? i'm sure they'll help...

Derek L. said...

Ha, good idea... So I wrote about one of my fav methods for overcoming objection.