Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mining Meaning from the Stories of Your Life

The daily events in our lives are like holograms. The stories of our strivings and daydreams, or our mishaps and conflicts all reveal our inner core—our personality, our soul. Every event, no matter how minor, can reflect our inner world. We can mine the stories of our lives to extract the gold from them. We may even find that the lessons in our daily lives contain a “gold” (universal truth) for others as well as ourselves. © 2010 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rx for Strong Emotions

What can we do when we are triggered by a very strong emotion?
Rx for Strong Emotions
Release yourself physically--
Go for a walk.
Breathe deeply.
Start a relaxation process to stop a "fight or flight" escalation.
Explore your psychology--
Silently contemplate, journal, or talk to a trusted friend.
What happened?
How come I feel the way I feel? (continue to repeat “how come” until you find out your deepest inner truth.) Don’t judge this truth, just find it.
Determine what needs changing—your inner perceptions or an outer reality.
© 2010 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Monday, October 25, 2010

Accepting Emotional Reactions--Our Own and Others'

Imagine you’re in a fight with a colleague. You tell your office mate what happened but she only shrugs. She doesn’t understand your point. Perhaps your coworker is furious because he didn't receive more credit for his recent report. In this same situation, you were unaffected. I may seethe when a colleague tells a white lie but this doesn't bother you at all.

We often feel superior to others when we don’t feel angry but anger (like all emotions) is only data. Our anger is telling us something about our inner or outer world.

Accepting all our emotional reactions (not behaviors) is vital in developing emotional Intelligence. Accepting our most embarrassing and confusing emotional reactions will lead to greater self-knowledge and emotional skillfulness. Accepting the emotional reactions (not behavior) of others will help us develop empathy and healthier, happier relationships.

If we can accept our differences in perceptions and emotional reactions we avoid two destructive impulses.

1. If we accept our feelings fully we are less tempted to blame the other person for our reactions. It isn’t accurate to say “you make me so angry….”. When we try to justify our feelings through blame, we only make a difficult situation worse. If I’m angry about a colleague’s behavior, it is my anger. I can describe the behavior and what I wish changed, but the feeling is mine. Other people may not perceive the situation in the same way. They may not feel angry -- but this doesn’t matter.
2.. As we accept our feelings we grow to understand our triggers. As we understand these triggers (a lifelong process), we are more prepared for them and are more able to manage our reactions.

Don’ let anyone criticize your feelings. Someone can question your actions, but never your feelings. Our feelings are data about our inner and outer environment. We need to explore this data--not suppress and deny it. As we explore our emotions we may find that our inner perceptions are based on faulty conclusions from the past. We may work to change dysfunctional thoughts which lead to emotions that don’t accurately reflect outer reality. Or we may find that our emotions are giving us valuable data about our outer environment.
© 2010 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An acronym reminder tool

How do we work with less conflict? Here’s a useful acronym that I recently created.

When in conflict --DUEL
Describe—Describe what you need changed in your work situation.
Understand—Work to understand your emotional triggers and those of your co-workers.
Empathize—Can you find a way to imagine how the other person feels?
Listen—Listen for both facts and feelings--to discover their emotional needs.

© 2010 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Conflict at Work

When trust is lost how can workers regain it? How can we turn around a poisoned relationship?

Team reflection:
Am I perpetuating a workplace conflict through gossip, my nonverbal behaviors, or silence?

We may feel justified in our feelings about “certain” co-workers but are we correct in our assumptions? Could there be other realities? How might our “opponents” see our behavior?

What is the cost to me when I hold a grudge?

What next:
Team members in conflict may need mediation from a neutral third party. Are you that person? Even if those in conflict aren’t ready to sit down together, “positive gossip” can build bridges and empathy. Can you help other team members understand each other better? Can you relate only positive messages and build trust within your team, instead of division?
© 2010 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Keeping the flames alive--monitoring the inner world

Rick and I have been enjoying some Fall camping. Sitting by the campfire is one of our favorite rituals. It is a time of relaxation and contemplation. The fire soothes us. But it does require tending.

The key to building a fire is finding the right balance of oxygen and fuel. We’ve learned to balance the logs just…close…enough. We allow space for air but keep the logs close--to build momentum of one flame on another. Then as the fire falls and settles we adjust the logs. We keep bringing fuel and oxygen where it’s needed.

If you leave a fire to itself…it dies. It winds down. A fire needs tending.

How is tending a fire like tending to our emotional and spiritual lives?

© 2010 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Monday, October 18, 2010

Guidelines For Expressing Feelings

Recognizing and then expressing feelings is key to a balanced life.

Here are some guidelines:

  1. Expressing feelings begins with an “I statement” --keeping the focus on me.
  2. Formula: “I feel ____ (adjective follows: happy, sad, embarrassed, elated, etc.) about...”
  3. Feelings are neither right nor wrong, good nor bad, they just are.
  4. Saying, “I feel THAT...,” is probably not expressing a feeling.
  5. If I can substitute “I think” for “I feel,” then I am expressing a thought.
Expressing our feelings allows us to share our needs without needing to judge another. We can help others understand our unique perceptions and requirements.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Emotional Intelligence and Time

Daniel Goleman writes in Working with Emotional Intelligence,

"The rhythm and pace of modern life give us too little time to assimilate, reflect, and react...We need time to be introspective, but we don't get it - or don't take it."

How do you take the time to be introspective, and process your emotions?
What form do your moments of quietude take? Meditation? Gardening? Walks?
How might you find additional opportunities to listen to your "inner voice"?