This week's skill builds on several previous posts to create a technique that can be used to process any conflicts you may be having but also gives you a technique to use when you are actively engaged in the moment of the conflict. This meditation relies heavily on the work of Dr. Marc Brackett, Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Much of his work on the meta-moment shows up in this guided meditation.
The Guided Meditation
Think of a recent conflict that made you upset where you didn't have the best response during the situation. Select an event where the trigger was more ego-based or non-trauma related. Don't select a situation of profound trauma.
Close your eyes and see the event clearly. See the room it happened in. Picture the time of day. What were you wearing? What was the person you were having conflict with wearing? Really see the room and the other people around you. Let the event progress to the point where you feel yourself become triggered and then push pause.
1. Feel the trigger in your body. While everything is paused, search your body and really feel what being triggered in this situation feels like for you. You feel triggers first in your body. Some people feel themselves freeze. Others feel themselves go cold and shutdown. Others feel an intense heat rise up in themselves. Pay attention to the posture you are in as the trigger happens as well. Being able to identify this feeling in your body when it happens is key to being able to work more effectively with your triggers in the future.
2. Identify what the other person did. What behavior in the other person set you off. This is the lit match half of the trigger. People can walk around all day with a lit match and nothing could happen. It takes another person who has the right kerosene in them for the spark to ignite the conflict. Identify the lit match half of this situation. Label what they did.
3. Own your own stuff. Identify your half of the equation. The other person may have a lit match but it needs fuel inside you to ignite. Dig deep and find what part of you is the kerosene in this equation. What in you is responding to them in a negative way? For help with this, read the post 1/12 Non-Trauma Related Triggers to really learn how to pull out Steps 2 and 3 of this visualization in greater detail..
4. Pause and Breathe. Give yourself one breath to create the space you need to respond in situations where you just can't get away and have to act or speak right then and there.
5. Remind yourself of your best-self. Many people consciously or unconsciously label themselves before responding in a conflict. You may need to label yourself the opposite of what comes up in Step 3. If the kerosene inside you is your own emotional or intellectual insecurity, you may remind yourself that, "I am secure in who I am and I don't respond in anger." "I am a good example to my children," and "I take the high road in conflicts," are other common best-self labels. To look at this piece more in depth, read two posts: 1/5 Best Self and 3/20 Behavioral Confirmation. They will help you create your self-labels.
6. Respond as your best self. Now that you've labeled your best self, create a response based from that image of who you know you are or can be. Your self-image or self-concept determines a large part of how you respond during conflict. If you have a negative self-concept or pull up negative labels, you will often respond in counter-productive ways. Give yourself a good-name. Formulate a new response.
Now press play again on your visualization. Watch your new response play out and see how the situation changes or the conflict alters based on this more effective response.
Becoming a better you
Using this technique turns your conflicts into situations where you can reprogram your self-concept in healthier and more helpful ways. As you identify your triggers and create a self-label that counteracts them, you are working to resolve the parts of yourself that need healing. With each new conflict, you actually have the opportunity to use it to improve your future interactions and responses.
Remember don't use this technique to judge yourself. Accept and love the you that doesn't always respond in the best ways. Praise the you that is working to grow and to actually learn from your past mistakes. Seeing your conflicts as opportunities may take awhile but after some time of using this technique you will indeed begin to see them that way.
This is a technique you can use when triggered to regain emotional control and respond in better ways. It's also a great technique when you are reviewing negative past events where you were less than proud of your response. Use your conflict to make yourself better.
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