Each of us react to the challenges of life in different ways and often those reactions cripple us and prevent us from solving our problems sensibly. A person’s pattern of response to the glitches in his day is called his emotional style. Most of us believe that that style is inherent in who we are. All too often we excuse an inappropriate remark or an ill-advised outburst by saying, “Well, that’s just me.” The good news is that we can actually change our gut reactions to stress and conflict, once we understand the root causes of those responses. Indeed, no one needs to be trapped by his emotional style. If your responses are getting you into trouble and are not solving the very conflicts you are trying to erase, you can teach yourself to react in more positive ways.
Richard J. Davidson, in his book The Emotional Life of Your Brain, outlines the key elements of emotional style. The first element is resilience. How easily do you let go of disappointments and get on with your life? His second element is your general outlook on life. Do you see the half full or half empty glass? Do you believe that things will eventually work out no matter how daunting they look at the moment? The third element of your emotional style is how clearly you see yourself.
Robert Burns once said, “O would some Power the gift to give us; to see ourselves as others see us!” It is far more difficult than we imagine to know who we really are. All of us think of ourselves as well-meaning, righteous and kind. We justify our opinions and our actions because we believe they are perfectly reasonable to anyone with any sense. The truth is that we are all too often biased, misguided and never clearly right or wrong. The ability to see both our negative and positive attributes for what they are that is another hallmark of our emotional style.
Everyone has come home from a party thinking they miscommunicated with someone or made a mess of an encounter. They beat themselves up by telling themselves how lousy their social skills are. Yet, with thought and understanding, it is possible to refine your social intuition and adjust your reaction to the other person’s so that your experience is satisfying to both of you. The secret is to pay attention to what you say and how you react. Then you will be in control of your emotional style instead of letting it be in charge of you.
Davidson says the best tool for controlling your emotion style is “mindfulness meditation.”
“Mindfulness meditation cultivates greater resilience and faster recovery from setbacks by weakening the chain of associations that keep us obsessing about and even wallowing in a setback,” he says.
Tuesday evening, March 20, at our monthly salon, at at 8p.m., we will discuss ways we can control our emotional style and discuss how each of us manage to stay optimistic and joyful in the face of disaster and control our anger and grief.
Don’t miss this chance to examine what triggers your reactions and why they are not giving you the positive result you expect. We will talk about compassion for yourself and for others and discuss ways we can be more effective in dealing with others.
Confidence comes not from always being right
But from not fearing to be wrong.