You are entitled to the remote
How do you feel when someone takes control of the remote? There you are, happily doing your thing, really engrossed and someone walks in, takes the remote and changes the channel.
They don’t acknowledge you at all. They don’t care that you were minding your own business and that you were involved in what you were watching. Nope, they just take the remote and change the channel to some awful violent movie.
What’s your gut reaction?
Instantaneous irritation? Or maybe, depending on the day, fury?
So we have 2 scenarios that happen here, 2 options of what can happen next.
But here’s the problem, whichever path we decide to take, we still end up feeling awful in the end. It’s a lose/lose situation. Either way, we have let the remote thief take control of how we feel.
It’s similar to the feeling that we can have at work when we are triggered by a coworker, a patient, or a patient’s family member. We are trying to do a good job, minding our business and someone comes in and takes the remote. They say something nasty, they ignore the fact that we are drowning in work and keep looking at their phone, they complain to management despite the fact that we spent ALL DAY trying to give them amazing care. Without any provocation, they swoop in and take the remote.
Unfortunately, with the remote goes our emotions. Really, the remote control IS the remote control for our emotions.
And they just took it.
Now of course I could say “don’t let it bother you” but it’s too late for that. The aggravation is like a reflex, a reflex that will take time and practice to slow down. It already HAS bothered you.
So now what?
Obviously now I give you the answer to what can help in these situations.
It’s 6 simple steps. Simple, but not always easy.
Be aware that this is happening before you let the reflexive aggravation throw you into a tailspin. When you feel the flush of anger, stop and pay attention TO YOURSELF.
Step away. Mentally, if need be (we can’t always go for a walk or leave the bedside even). Take a mental step back from yourself and watch what is happening in your thoughts and your emotions. Simply put, think about what you are thinking.
Go into your body. I know I might lose you here. Resist the urge to stop reading. This is really the key to hanging on to the remote, the key to not being triggered ALL THE TIME. Ok, now that I have you for a few more sentences, let me explain. Your body is telling you something is terribly wrong. Your heart rate is up, your face is hot, you have tightness in your chest or in your belly. Your shoulders tense and the headache starts. Your body has sensed a threat and is responding in a physiological way. This feeling is terrible so we try to ignore it, we keep working, we ruminate. We think of all the things we should have said, or how wrong they are. We lose focus. And if you are really unfortunate, like me, you cry. The solution is counterintuitive. Instead of trying to overcome all these feelings, we have to settle into them so that we reassure the body that nothing is an imminent threat to our wellbeing.
Here's how. Just like we stepped away mentally to see what we were thinking. Now we need to step into the physical sensation of the body. Describe (to yourself of course) what physical sensations you are experiencing. Observe it with curiosity. Use as many mental words as possible. Does the tightness in your chest have a temperature or color, is it moving, is it solid? Trust me, I know how insane this sounds if you have never done it. I too was a skeptic but in desperation I gave it a try and it works. So I am willing to have you consider me crazy in hopes that next time you go from peaceful to pissed off in 1 millisecond, you will remember this and give it a try. Ok so back to the physical feeling. As you are exploring this, take a deep breath. Watch the physical sensations and describe them in detail. Breathe. Watch and describe. Breathe. Repeat over and over. What this does is it sends the message back to your sympathetic nervous system that there is no danger, there is no threat. By responding with calmness and acceptance of your initial physiological response with curiosity and breathing you are sending the message back to your brain, “nothing to see here.”
Watch the aggravation disappear, watch it ease and dissipate. I hope you are as amazed by this as I was when it first worked for me. I literally can’t believe they don’t teach this in school.
Repeat every time you feel yourself getting triggered. Sometimes the aggravation will come back later in the day but just do the process again (instead of complaining to anyone who will listen.) Soon you will get faster and faster at processing the emotion and feeling better faster. Soon you will be able to “not let it bother you” because you will have trained yourself to stop resisting the negative emotion response, leaning in and processing with ease and speed.
You aren’t just taking back control of the remote,
You are making the remote disappear.
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