Archive | July 2014

Aiming @ Others but Shooting Self – Anger!

A lot of us may have heard that anger is not a good thing and one shouldn’t get angry. That’s ideal really. However, since we do get angry once in a while, it might be worthwhile to focus on how to deal with this emotion if and when it occurs. Not getting angry is good. However, knowing how to deal with anger when we experience it may be important too.

Firstly – do you talk to yourself when you are angry?

What’s important about that you may ask? Talking to others or doing something in a moment of anger may not be helpful as we may land up saying or doing things that we may regret later. And once you get yourself into an emotion, ignoring it might not be a feasible option as well. Engaging with anger may have counter-productive effects. Howver, addressing anger might be helpful. To address it, you alone can help yourself.

Asking yourself questions like the below gives a sense of perspective by keeping you at a healthy distance from the situation:

–          What am I angry about?

–          How would I want to address it or deal with it?

Secondly, do you want to address the person, the behavior or the situation? If it is the situation, can you change it? If yes, what can you do? If no, how can you work around it? One of the two is almost always possible.

For example, let’s take a situation – if there’s heavy traffic, you may not be able to make it disappear but you can certainly do something else to keep yourself in a positive state like playing music or talking to someone you’ve been wanting to.

If it is the behavior, what is it about the behavior that you are particularly upset with? One is the actual behavior as demonstrated. The other is the meaning that you have attached to a behavior. For example: if I tell my friend, “you don’t care about me anymore” – I am not specific about any behavior here. I am only referring to my perceptions. What might help is if I say, “Hey, you did not respond to any of my calls last week”. This way of stating a specific behavior, usually escapes resistance as we are stating facts and not attaching meanings or interpretations to behaviors. It also leaves room for the other person to explain or apologize as they may feel appropriate.

If it is the person you want to address, talking about their behavior usually addresses them. Think about it – what is it that you are angry with a person for? It is either a particular behavior or the lack of it. There is pretty much nothing else that one could possibly be angry about. However, sometimes when we club the behavior or action with the person and try addressing them together, the way we express changes.  If we say “you aren’t a caring person” or “you are an irresponsible person” – it straightaway refers to the identity of the person. In our attempt to criticize the deed, we actually criticize the doer.  The focus shifts from behavior to the person and it may not be a respectful way of expressing ourselves.  It is labeling someone based on our perception. It may invite defensiveness and may also get the other person to move into a negative space.

Above all of this, the most important question to ask is – Is there something about yourself that you’d want to look into – Something in you that may be causing the anger? And how would you want to address that? Looking outward can give you a short-term solution. If we look within, we could find a long time solution.

Taking a few seconds to talk to ourselves and ask what is important in this situation, the person or anger – will help us deal with anger in a more productive way.  It also saves us the unnecessary guilt trips that usually follow our actions in moments of anger. Anger is a momentary feeling and we need not let a momentary feeling negatively impact our life and our relationships. So, if a few minutes of self-talk can guide us to effectively deal with this emotion, why not? Besides, there are no dependencies in this. You are always with yourself and you can influence your actions the way you choose. Even anger, if expressed effectively, can be productive. For that to happen, we must be clear on who is controlling what. Is the anger controlling you or are you controlling the anger? And the answer lies within.

High Five!

I was sitting with a dear friend of mine at work and we were talking about what makes us happy and how does our work contribute to our happiness. She mentioned that although she had many accolades at work, none of them ever featured in her list of happiest moments of her life. She said that happy moments for her would be a time when she went for a walk in the nature or had a great conversation with someone or when she travelled by herself. Curious, I looked within to see if that was the case with me too. Did my work not contribute to my happiness in my larger scheme of life?I figured that for me I had moments from work, from creativity, from people and extraordinary situations that counted for my happiest moments. It was clear that what truly, deeply mattered to me was creativity, people and a sense of accomplishment and what truly, deeply mattered to my friend was a quiet, peaceful time with herself or someone she loved. This insight was so intriguing that I carried it further with another friend asking him what were his happiest moments. He, true to himself, had a balance of people and accomplishments in his list of five happiest moments so far.

It felt like one of those Eureka moments for me. Although when I spoke about it, it sounded so commonsensical. Nonetheless, I figured I’d like to write about this and explore more. The reason why I thought this is so important is because it very clearly gives me an understanding about what matters the most to a person. And for self too, it gives a perspective on one would or should rather spend their life’s energies on if they are in pursuit of happiness. There’s a theme that we find in these 5 happiest moments. Therein is the key or a guide for our future actions.

Think about your day today? How was it? How many moments count for happy ones today? Could that be a feed for your tomorrow? Else, what would you want to add on a daily basis, that can add up to your happiness factor in a day (could be based on something from your happiest moments in life). It doesn’t have to be that if my day of marriage was the happiest – I’d want to get married everyday! J It could just mean that there is something about the person who I married or about the marriage itself that makes it count for my happiest moment. So how can I add to that factor in my everyday existence is the thought.

Think about your colleague or loved one. If you know their five (or key) happiest moments – you’ll know that as a person they are happiest when they deal with challenges and emerge – or when they are with people – or when they are by themselves doing something or the like. That would give you a clue in terms of how you could engage with them in a way that makes them happy and productive too. We don’t have to necessarily ask. People keep talking about things that make them happy quite often. Are they activity based, people based, situation based, recognition based, place based etc? You can know the criteria for motivation for that particular person. What a powerful way would that be to influence someone positively? We can create experiences that would matter the most to a person. So, I know when my friend comes home the next time, all I need to do is take her for a walk and engage in great conversations as we usually do. 🙂

Immensely Influential YOU!

When I was studying in Mumbai, I was happily walking in to my hostel one day and said “Hi, how are you?” to one of my hostel-mates. I went into my room and the girl came right behind me with tears in her eyes. Surprised, I asked her, ‘what happened?’ She said that she really felt good that I took the time to notice her and greet. She was feeling lonely and thought that nobody cared in this big city. I sat and spoke to her for some time. By the time she left the room, she had a lovely smile on her face. I was pleasantly surprised that something as simple as a hello had such a deep impact on someone. From then on, I made it a point to be more intentional while greeting people.

We might think that our role is only that of a father/mother, son/daughter, brother/sister, boss/team member, friend, neighbor etc. But if we pause and look at a different perspective – our circle of influence is much larger than that. For example, if you had a fight in the morning with someone at home, it leaves an impact on them and you (consciously or sub-consciously). When they meet other people your impact is getting extended to them in some form. In turn, when the others meet many others the scope of your impact extends further. This means that each of us, even in our tiniest and minimalist of interactions, impact or influence at least tens of people each day, without even our awareness. This, when expounded into days, weeks, months or years, actually means we impact many, MANY lives in our lifetime.

Think about the incidents that have stayed with you from your childhood or any phase of your life. Situations that may not have been significant for others may have had a deep impact on you. And those may have influenced your personality, thoughts, beliefs or actions in some form.

Likewise, when we hit or even verbally abuse a child, it’s not just about that child or that moment anymore. It impacts the adult that the child is going to grow into and that adult will impact many others. It isn’t the best of memories for that child. It may have created a sense of fear or helplessness. Think about a time when you said something in a moment of anger or irritation that you did not mean. It would’ve left an undesirable impact for a long time. Somehow, our mind has the capacity to store the not-so-positive incidents with greater intensity for longer time. If you receive 10 compliments and 1 criticism, where are you more likely to place your focus on?

It’s not just my parent, my sibling, my child, my spouse or my friend anymore. Things have a long lasting impact on the world around us in many subtle ways.

If one person breaks a queue, we suddenly see many others wanting to do the same.

If one person tries to squeeze their way on the wrong side of the road, many others soon want to follow.

Each of us is aware of how someone else has impacted us. Are we aware of how we are impacting others through our words, actions or humor?

We may not be able to change anyone but ourselves. But we CAN, and ARE always influencing others.

What is the influence and impact you wish to have?