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What the hell! Ringing cellphone with ridiculous ring tones, lost data, rude customers, unreasonable deadlines, demanding bosses. A sure-fire recipe, that sometimes makes you feel like screaming your head off.

Emotional knowledge and mastery skills are not just a benefit these days; they’ve become a requirement. In this post my aims to address that need. It aims to provide proven methods and ways to handle anything that happens in a mature and respectful manner.

The Turning Point

The turning point for me is, the vital first step; taking fundamental responsibility for our behaviour.
Your boss begins shouting at you, and you are filled with anger, and begin shouting back, or you go home and take it out on someone who just happens to be there. You are late for a job interview, and your heart begins beating fast, you start sweating, and you start speeding through traffic – risking your life – to get there in time.

You think it’s you boss fault you are angry, but it isn’t. You think it is the traffic jam that caused your anxiety, but it isn’t. You, and no one else, nothing else, are responsible.

The biggest Lie

To think that anyone else is responsible is the biggest lie, and one of the most disempowering. I believe that people and events have no control over us – except what we give them. If we buy into this lies, we would be no different from puppies; trained to bark and jump, and wag our tails at the slightest action from others.

Not too long ago, I had a minor confrontation with a customer (let just call her Jane) who came into the FedEx office looking for a package which hadn’t arrive. I politely pointed out that the package was not yet in Dominica, because the plane was scheduled to land in Dominica later that afternoon.

It took all of us by surprise, and as she began calling me names, I felt my anger rise. “How dare she talk to me like that? What does she know? I didn’t do or say anything wrong, why was she in such a rage?”

I wanted to shout back, but I remained silent until my own anger had passed, and she had finished her outburst. Then I explained calmly that I had meant no disrespect, and apologized for any misunderstandings. In the end, everything worked out just fine.

The ABC Model

Albert Ellis, who is one of the pioneers of Cognitive Psychology, came up with a simple system to describe how we really operate. He called it the ABC model: Antecedent, Belief, and Consequence.
We believe that A leads directly to C. In the example above, Jane antagonized me, leading to my Anger. But that was not true – there was some reaction in between, my beliefs had filtered the experience and therefore created the anger.

The thoughts I had, revealed the beliefs that lay beneath them: We shouldn’t be shouted at; everyone should be polite; she should respect my information.

Interestingly, many spiritual traditions state the same thing – the difference between how reality is and our beliefs about how reality should be causes our suffering. The truth of this is obvious, if we look around us – why does certain people remain calm in the midst of financial hardship in Dominica, while another falls to pieces?

Change starts From Within

It makes sense then, that to change our behaviours, we have to change what happens inside us.
What we have to know are the two levels of our internal reactions: our emotions and our thoughts. They feed off each other in one big circle. For example, the more fearful or angry we become, the more distorted our thoughts are. The more distorted our thoughts are, the stronger our emotional reaction.

And of course, this cycle builds until we take physical action. Often times, this result in us doing something we’ll regret. Breathe!

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