Seeing Beyond the Mental Fog

When fog settles in visibility lessens. Ordinary objects become distorted, perception is askew and navigation treacherous. Some souls have been lost at sea or driven over a cliff.

The same is true on the road of life when emotions cloud one’s vision. Annoyance become paramount, perception is out of kilter and course-plotting underhanded. Jobs are lost, relationships are harmed and happiness is illusive.

Where you are is where you are. The meaning you give to where you are is your perception based on the meaning you attach to where you are. Anxiety is the body’s response to thinking and feeling. When one makes a clear distinction between the event and the meaning given to it, one is better prepared to handle the realities of life.

Example: Driving on an unfamiliar road one may think, “I don’t know where I am.” “I’m lost.” You feel you should have gone another way; that you should have stayed home, that this road is too dangerous. Your body is tense and anxiety sets in.

Reframe: Distinguish between event and the meaning it warrants. “I am unfamiliar with the road and the surroundings. I am a good driver and will navigate cautiously. I will slow down and arrive alive. It is okay to be a little late.” Tension abates.

Example: You are told what to do when you already know what to do! You begin to mind read; “You think I am stupid.” “You think you are so smart.” “Get off my back!” You feel judged and criticized. Your body tenses as anger rises and hard feelings compound.

Reframe: "He/she means well. Maybe they know something I have overlooked or have not yet learned. Either way, I will respect their input and treat them with civility." Calm is restored. Relationship remains intact.

Example: A botched performance. Meaning attached, “I am a big goof. I ruined the entire event.” “People are placating me.” Feelings attached are discouragement, despair and failure. Body’s response is tight muscles, headache and depressing.

Reframe: Make a clear distinction between event and the meaning you give it. “Even though I messed up a little I gave some salient points. I am learning to be a presenter and will do better the next time.” Let yourself off the hook. Be able to receive compliments.

All day, every day four things are happening simultaneously:
1) the event
2) your thought regarding the event
3) your emotions associated with what you perceive about the event
4) your body responding to how you see, think and feel about the event

Reframing helps you to see what was not clean when clouded by emotions. Reframing takes you to a detached position where you might be able to see what a bystander would see (about the situation as well as about you).

Rethink and let the sunshine reflect a better light on success, relationships and happiness.


Controlling Your Emotions

Emotions, can you trust them?

Emotions have a wide range of expression; some are pleasant, such as happiness, and some are uncomfortable, such as fear. Unwelcome emotions like grief or anger are for our good, acting as a tutor to steer us in different directions in similar future circumstances. Emotions are expressions of feelings, tools for self-protection and means of motivation.

A mark of maturity is how well one handles his emotions. To raise your emotional IQ, use the following suggestions to deal positively with criticism or negativity.

Do not take it personally. Suppose Monk is your favorite TV show and your mate thinks it is silly. Choose not to be defensive; do not see it as a personal rejection. People have different tastes, various likes and dislikes, and dissimilar takes on humor. Do not make it into more than it is. Be aware and intentional about how you respond. Beware lest emotions backfire and cause reverberating effects.

What vs. why. “Why” encourages excuses. “What” promotes accountability. “Why” looks at the here and now. “What” looks at the present and future.

Assume positive intent. What you tell yourself about what you hear determines how you will respond. Regardless of what is said or done, see things at face value and do not look for hidden agendas. You want to respond to the need, not the emotion. This will aid in objectivity and give you a fresh approach to people.

Negative assumptions lead to misunderstandings and anger. Positive assumption allows you to listen with the intent to understand what is being said and to respond calmly and respectfully, without profanity or sarcasm. Assuming positive intent allows you to acknowledging everyone as right from their own perspective.

Emotions and biology. According to Dr. Henry S. Lodge of the Columbia Medical School, emotions charge our cells to either live or die. Destructive emotions such as anger, resentment, stress and loneliness send a “starvation” message telling cells to decay. Constructive emotions of optimism, caring and community activate cellular growth to build body, mind, spirit and relationships.

Reinterpret the message. Jax Place of the Beakman column suggests that emotions are “messages we send to ourselves; from you to you, using a language that is yours alone.” Emotions include feelings and responses. Although you may not be able to control your feelings, you can control how you behave.

Change how you respond and you change how someone's action affects you. Use your emotions in ways that are good for you. Ways that promote health and happiness and wholesome relationships.


Agreement vs. Appeasement

Have you ever been guilty of agreeing when you did not really agree only to be caught up in a conundrum? Then, since the non-agreement was just a front to avoid unpleasantness - you went on your merry way doing whatever you chose?

And it backfired on you?

It damaged your credibility? It cast doubt on your ethics? It may have even done damage to the relationship? You were called to task for not acting on your pseudo-agreement?  You find yourself stuck in excuses and rationalization and justification?

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott

One may think that agreeing to appease makes things easier, but does it really? It may pacify for today, but what about tomorrow? Or next week? Or ten years down the road? Does mollifying place strain on the relationship? Is each non-truthful act another blow to the dividing wedge?

What will continue conciliating do for your health - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?

Stuck is when you keep moving and it’s time to be still. That rubbing movement causes friction that leads to provocation, the very thing your false agreement was trying to avoid.

In a moment of stillness, consider the hard truth that no one likes to be pacified. You do not like it. S/he does not like it. Although we absolutely cannot read someone's mind, there is something mystical about knowingly/unknowingly discerning what is truth or lie.

You perceive legitimacy or falsehood in others. They perceive legitimacy or falsehood in you.

The current moment is attached to all your future moments. Make them ring true.

Think with the mind and know with the heart. Be proactive by deciding in advance how you will response when the faithfulness of life and relationships presents this scenario again. Decide your truth beforehand. Not for a canned or condescending reply, but for comfort and flow.

Sometimes a person will “agree” with an aggressor as a way of stopping communication. Take a moment to dialogue with yourself to find your truth then verbalize it rather than deflect. If your agreement is not true, summons the courage to speak your truth in love. “I think I understand where you are coming and I do not agree.” “It is alright with me if you fill-in-the-blank and I choose not to be a part.” Note that a simple “and” instead of a “but” softens a descending comment.

See the value in the relationship as you work to repair the damage. Respect will bloom again.