A Primer for Letting It Go: When People Get “On Your Last Nerve”

During the course of our daily life, we inevitably push each other’s buttons and pull one another’s triggers. Mostly unintentionally, people can, at times, get “on our last nerve.” We’re human. And most of the time, with the little stuff AND if we’re taking good care of ourselves, it can be easy to just brush it off.

Yet it is also true that when you’ve been hurt (or even annoyed) by someone, at work or in any other part of your life, the path to letting it so is not always so simple.  We know that holding on to a grudge or nursing a slight will only make us feel worse- and not just emotionally.  Resentments and pent-up irritations can cause our blood pressure to spike and activate stress chemicals that can make us physically sick.  And the truth is: it doesn’t really do any good anyway.  Any satisfaction in being right or having the last word is short lived and ultimately a misuse of our imagination.

 

Here are some steps to help you let go when you feel angry, sad or plain indignant:

 

  1. Name It-Whether you’ve hurt yourself or have been hurt by another, allow yourself to simply name the feelings that are there.  They might include guilt, shame, sorrow, confusion, or anger.  A study at UCLA found that when you name your emotional experience it turns the volume down on your amygdala, the emotion center of the brain, and brings resources back to your pre-frontal cortex, the rational part of your brain.  By naming the feeling, you create some space around it and not become overwhelmed.
  2. Feel It- Forcing yourself to let go is an oxymoron.    Keeping hard feelings bottled up only cause additional stress to your mind and body.  Talking it out is helpful- to a point.  Sharing helps you expand your perspective, and perhaps even see what happened through a different lens. It’s not about telling everyone your side of a story.  It’s about letting out your frustration so you can move on. This could also mean writing about it. The practice below can also help you to pause and sense what you’re feeling.
  3. Flip Your Focus. If possible, see if you shift your focus from being the victim to seeing the other person as being distracted in their own inner world of worries, who are, like so many of us, stuck in reactivity.  People lash out and speak before thinking, sometimes. Have we ever done this?  This is difficult to do, but remember, you’re not condoning any action.  It’s just about trying to see how each of us are deeply impacted by our life experiences, which informs how we show up in the world.  Researcher Brene Brown, author of Rising Strong, says, “Blaming is a way to discharge pain and discomfort.”  However, it gives us a false sense of control inevitably keeping the negativity kicking around in our minds, increasing our stress and eroding our relationships. Compassion tends to flow a more understanding perspective.

 

  1. Bring Awareness Practices into your daily life.  In two recent studies in both the Journal of American College Health and The Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology with several hundred participants that found a direct link that a consistent mindfulness practice supports our ability to forgive.

 

  1. Have patience: Forgiving and letting things go isn’t always a one and done.  It’s not always a quick fix.  It’s a process, so be patient with yourself.  With smaller transgressions, forgiveness can happen pretty quickly, but with the larger ones, it can take longer.

 

A Mini Forgiveness Practice to Try (1x Day):

 

Think of someone who has caused you angst (to start, it’s not advisable a person who has deeply hurt you).  Visualize the person and even feel the tightness in your unwillingness to let go.  Now, observe what emotion is present.  Is it anger, resentment, sadness?  Use your body as a barometer and notice physically what you feel?  Are you tense anywhere, or do you feel heavy?  Next, bring awareness to your thoughts; are they spiteful, sad, or something else? If you feel like you have carried this burden long enough, silently repeat: “Breathing in, I acknowledge the hurt.  Breathing out, I am forgiving and releasing this burden from my heart and mind.”  Continue this process for as long as it feels supportive to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What it Means to Live Authentically


Leading an Authentic Life 
doesn’t mean spouting your ‘truth’ every time there appears an opening. It’s not the wisest move to be habitually giving your opinions at work or anywhere else for that matter. Yes, honesty matters. And what we are thinking may or may not be the arbiter of truth-ours or anyone else’s.  Living with authenticity is different than this. It means to live a life that is genuine and principled.

Consider the following characteristics of living genuinely:

 

  • Being open to your moment to moment experience without distortions, denial, or  invalidating yourself in some way or another.
  • Enjoying a sense of dynamism and not feeling stuck or stagnant.
  • Having a deep trust in your own intuition and ability to self-direct your own course in life.
  • Knowing the responsibility and the freedom in responding to life with our full attention, rather than reacting impulsively or habitually to people or events as they occur.
  • Adopting a creative approach to life, demonstrating flexibility rather than rigidity and closed-mindedness.


Of course, we may possess more of certain qualities than others. Embodying these qualities are certainly fluid on any given day. What’s vital is that they all can be cultivated by practicing these 5 suggestions:

  1. Be deliberate.  Roy Baumeister, PhD (Univ. of Florida), states that “authenticity consists in being aware that you have choices and consciously choosing what you do.” A large part of living an authentic life involves being aware of your ability to chart your own course, choosing wisely the activities of your day to mirror your intentions and goals. While many things happen each day that we cannot control- we can choose our actions.
  2. Don’t be too deliberate.  Without this seeming like a completely contradictory message, consider how you can be intentional in your behaviors without over analyzing and over thinking everything. Too much opinion polling and second guessing in our lives is sometimes called “analysis paralysis.” Deep down, there is an intuitive understanding of who you are as a person.  Trust yourself.
    Often good decisions are made when we don’t think about them too intensely.  Go with your gut.  Authenticity resides, in part, at the gut level.

 

  1. Practice mindfulness. (Of course) Deep attention creates moments of happiness not contingent on outcomes or external factors or manipulation of the environment.  Mindfulness meditation enables you to become a curious, accepting, and nonjudgmental observer of your own experience.  When you are truly connected to the present moment, there is less attachment to needing certain outcomes or trying to control the way things are. It puts things in perspective and increases connection with the whole of life.

 

4. Cultivating Solitude.  Peter Kramer, a researcher at Brown University notes that “quiet and time for the self are a big plus.  If you’re worried about inauthenticity, there’s nothing like shutting the door.” While people differ on their individual needs for more or less quiet time to relax and recharge, there are significant benefits to taking a bit of quiet reflective time on a regular basis.

5. But Stay Connected. While it is always wise to check inwardly with ourselves, we can be positively informed and inspired by external factors and forces in our life too. Relationships are a vital part of living genuinely. We humans need each other. You can learn a great deal about yourself and your strengths through examining your interactions. Try noticing how you show up in relationship with others.The idea is to find the right balance between reflective solitude and connection with others that is healthy for you.

 

 

 

As Shakespeare penned in Hamlet:

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man (or woman or person).”

 

 

 

 

 

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One Essential for Cultivating Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman’s seminal work, Emotional Intelligence has made universally recognizable the acronyms EI and EQ (referring to Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Quotient). We all seem to have an intuitive grasp of what these terms mean. When referring to a coworker, boss, or a potential employ, we nod our heads approvingly when someone tells us, “She is one of those people with a high EQ” or shake them in sympathy when we hear, “It’s just that he is completely un self-aware, you know, low EQ.” This capacity of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use that emotional information to guide thinking and behavior is at the core of leadership competency. 

 Today’s inspiration explores the four competencies of EI: self-awareness, emotional self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship management, and their connection with the role of mindfulness:

By consistently practicing mindfulnessnot only do individuals develop deeper self-awareness, one of the major tenets of EI, they also develop greater insight into others, into human nature and along with an easing of ego-based concerns, mindfulness encourages a more compassionate concern for others.” Dr. Richie Davidson, neuroscientist, author of The Emotional Life of your Brain and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at UWISC- Madison.

The creator of Google’s Search Inside Yourself program, Chade-Meng Tan, also makes strong the link between EI and mindfulness. Tan wanted to help people find a way to align mindfulness practice with what they wanted to achieve in life, so they can create peace and happiness in themselves, and at the same time create world peace.”  This was predicated on the belief that all empathy and kindness come from cultivating a sense of inner calm, which can be achieved through mindfulness. For Tan the key moment came while reading Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence“I had found my vehicle for aligning meditation with real life, and that vehicle is emotional intelligence. A very good way (and I suspect the only way) to truly develop EI is with contemplative practices starting with Mindfulness Meditation.”

We begin training emotional intelligence by training attention…a strong, stable and perceptive attention affords you calmness and clarity, the foundation on which emotional intelligence is built. Mindfulness is a quality of awareness that is strong both in clarity and stability.  This allows us to perceive emotion with high vividness and resolution.  We can then begin to respond, in the best possible way, to ourselves, to other people and the changing situations of our lives. Being aware and deliberate sure beats reacting in ways that are habitual but don’t really serve us much. In fact, developing emotional intelligence is an ultimately practical endeavor.

And the research is compelling. Research at Harvard and Northeastern have shown that participants in mindfulness training are better able to articulate their emotions and score higher on overall empathy scales than the placebo.  Their conclusion: people who regularly practice mindful meditation can more easily develop the ability to detect and understand the emotions of others. And this greater empathy is circular. The continually flowing loop is from self to others back to self. Knowing yourself lies at the core of EQ, and that the best mental app for this can be found in the mind-training method called mindfulness and meditations that strengthen it.

To enhance your EQ, start with a link to a Three Minute Breathing Space Practice with Zindel Segal, PhD, co-founder of MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy):

 

https://youtu.be/amX1IuYFv8A

 

 

 

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Living Authentically: The Genuine You

It is the unique combination of talents, personality and experience that make each of us vital to the whole. We sometimes cover up the “real” us; maybe someone once said we were “a bit too much” when we were little or we’re worried that we won’t be accepted if we show up fully ourselves. Of course, these are just notions that don’t serve any good purpose for us or the world. And while it’s true, that we can’t just let it “all hang out” during a workday, we can show up for work with our most authentic self in place. Read more

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Minding the Questions

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Much of skillful leadership involves asking great questions…and really wanting to know the answer. Today’s question involves a disciplined awareness and an inquisitiveness on your part:

What’s Needed Most Right Now, at a Time like This?

This is a worthwhile question; worthy of bringing your attention to- a refrain to ask yourself with curiosity from time to time throughout each day. You could choose to even make it a practice. Read more

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“Er”, “Um”, “Like”: Mindful vs. Mindless Speech

 

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I stumbled across a creative and innovative practice this morning that is worth sharing. It incorporates mindfulness into our daily lives in a way that forces us to actually think about what we are saying and how we are saying it. This simple but challenging instruction brings an immediate and positive shift to how we are in the world. Read more

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