Today a friend sent me a text that bashed me right on the funny bone.
The gist of the text was “Hey, how ARE you, Andrea? We really must catch up soon, it’s been ages!! – Oh but even though I’m REALLY only texting you to see how you are, I coincidentally also have a small favour I want to ask you…”
I have no problem with people asking me favours,
in fact I think it’s great when people feel we’re close enough to ask me favours, it’s like a win for my friendship bank,
but when they’re accompanied by some bland attempt at pretending they’re just texting to see how I am, it really gets my goat.
“Why can’t you just say what you mean?!!” I shouted at my iPhone.
Granted, I was having a highly stressful week, I may not have been in my most rational state.
I have become aware recently that it is possibly my personality type (I’m a Myers-Briggs “T/ thinking” type) that makes me really want to throw up when people sugar coat things rather than just cutting straight to the point.
I always value honesty over nice.
However, I’ve been asking around, and it seems that my friends who are Myers-Briggs “F/ feeling” types (many females) find it really rude when people don’t add pleasantries to their messages.
They’re mostly the kind of nice people that write emails like:
“Happy Friday! I really hope you’re having a lovely day.
[Here’s the business I actually wanted to discuss but wanted to add some niceties first…]
Have a lovely weekend! :)
Xx The Nicest Person Ever”
Since I’ve come to understand it more I’ve had to try to accept that I will always have a number of beautiful “feeling” type friends who just can’t stand to cut straight to the point, and will always add nicey nice things in their messages.
So even though it pisses me off, I know it’s my shit to deal with, not theirs.
But that doesn’t stop me getting all heated and angry in my mind.
I have to bring all my mindfulness tools out at once to make sure I don’t get carried away with my thoughts and allow them to work me into a feisty stress-bag that ruins friendships over well-meaning texts!
Do you have things that trigger you into an emotional reaction that defies rationality?
Then sometimes do you accidentally act on it, create a mini rift in your friendship or relationship, and regret it as soon as you’ve calmed down?
In the case of my friend’s angrifying text, I knew my reaction was over the top, just like I knew that ice-queening Bloody Good Chap on my surfboard was not the mature course of action.
When we experience strong emotional reactions, our tendency is to fully buy into the emotion and to nod vigorously in agreement with all the angry thoughts.
Which just works us up into an emotional tornado that takes a tiny thing and swizzles it into a giant storm.
To stop our mind taking over and clouding our judgment, we have to hold our attention anchored in the eye of the storm.
The most effective anchor for our attention in a moment of emotional reactivity is the emotion itself –
it’s the strongest thing we can feel, so it shouldn’t be hard to locate.
So as the stormy reaction to the text raged inside me, and I started to notice furious, bitchy thoughts leaping around my head, I shifted my attention down into my chest where I could feel heat and tightness, and into my arms where I could feel little silver ants running up and down my veins.
The emotion didn’t bugger off for some time,
I just allowed it to hang out there, with my attention watching it with curiosity. Anchoring my attention in my emotion stopped me from getting drawn into my spiral of feisty thoughts.
We all know that feisty thoughts just get in there and make everything worse. Like that overly angry person at work, they never solve the issue, they just work themselves up into a shemozzle.
Think of something that really bothered you recently; a time when know your reaction was a bit stronger than it needed to be.
If you felt a bit of regret about how you handled it, even better.
The next time something similar happens I encourage you to practice this anchoring technique.
Find where the emotion originates (tight chest? Racing heart? Clenched fists? Churning stomach?) and bring your full attention to it – exactly what sensations can you feel?
Anchoring your attention in the emotion won’t necessarily make the emotion go away, but it will stop your attention being pulled into a whirlwind of increasingly furious thoughts that will only fuel the emotion to grow.
Eventually, like all weather patterns, the storm will pass and you’ll be glad you stayed out of the tornado.
The anchoring technique is incredibly effective, but it does take practice and it’s very easy to misunderstand or to forget the technique altogether.
Which is why I created my much-loved program Bloody Good Life 101, to guide you through the process of what I wished I’d learnt at school:
“How to adult” (without being a tosser too often.)
– Because we’ve all got to be a tosser every now and then, who else is going to do it?!
No, you’re right, old mate Donald will handle that.
When you’re learning to handle negative thoughts, how to regulate your emotions, how to destress and stop being a snappy trout, and how to get clear on your sense of self and direction, it helps to have a mentor to break everything down for you in tangible, practical ways that you can implement one step at a time.
It helps to have a supportive group of legends to help you along in the journey, to keep you accountable, and to share struggles and wins with so that you realise you’re not alone in this journey – there are people all over the world who share your thoughts!
Bloody Good Life LIVE is where you’ll find the mentoring, the practical steps, the accountability, and the supportive, honest community to cheer you on, and it’s open for registration now!!