Sure, mindfulness is easy in meditation, but how can we use mindfulness for managing emotions at work?!
I get it. We’ve all been there. The boss isn’t pleased with your work. Or maybe a coworker is trying to pass their work off onto you. Or maybe you just see someone wearing the same outfit as the one you just bought yesterday.
Suddenly, our heart rates go up. Muscles tense up. Body temperature rises. Blood pressure increases. Our breath becomes shallow, quick, irregular, or we hold our breath entirely. Emotions swell up and our mind can’t stop raging silently to ourselves.
So, what’s a person to do? Bingo, mindfulness. You can’t force thoughts to stop or try to ignore them. They will still be there and they will be screaming louder and louder until you finally pay attention to them again.
But, here are 5 ways you can use mindfulness in managing emotions at work:
Managing Emotions at Work by Mindfully Expanding Your Awareness Beyond the Thing That is Enraging You
Don’t just pay attention to what is bothering you. Pay attention to what the other person may be thinking that is making them say or do the thing that is bothering you. Ask yourself where it’s coming from, why they’re doing it, and what their intention is. Enraging you is almost never the reason. And if it is, then you just know you’re dealing with a very disturbed person and there is no point in putting too much value into what they’re saying or doing.
Managing Emotions at Work with Mindfulness: Focus on What is Actually Happening Rather Than Your Mind’s Story About What is Happening
When we get upset, we can’t stop thinking and we get completely absorbed and lost in our thoughts. It’s important to step back and observe what is happening clearly and soberly.
Notice the actions of the others and notice your response. Simply by noticing more, we realize our response is usually an overreaction. We can see that anger and negative emotions are both not helpful nor pleasurable.
Once we become consciously aware of our unconscious negative reactions, they lose their grip on us. This is because consciously we would never react in a way that doesn’t serve us.
Managing Emotions at Work with Mindfulness of Your Desires for Things to be a Certain Way and Accept the Way They Actually Are
Most of our unhappiness stems from an expectation of things to be a certain way. But unless you’re dictator of the universe, things will never always go the way we want them to.
Accepting what is is the greatest, most powerful, most profound thing we can do. In any situation it helps us not just control our emotions, but to love life, as it is, on its terms.
This doesn’t mean not trying to change things. Rather, it means changing them with wisdom, sophistication, foresight, peace, clarity, and joy.
Ask Yourself, “What is the best way for me to respond – with anger and jealousy, or kindness and patience?”
By simply asking questions rather than jumping to conclusions, anger recedes. You cannot be both curious and angry at the same time. Anger is a reaction based on our prejudices. Curiosity is the practice of humility. In curiosity, we acknowledge that everyone has something to teach us. We recognize that we are not perfect, that we do not have all the answers, and that we are willing to learn. Simply by being curious we go from anger and hurt to humble and calm. It is a powerful tool for managing emotions.
Explore the situation more deeply rather than obsess over a tiny detail. Look for the good and explore that. Just as we can look back on something terrible and laugh, with mindfulness we can have that bigger perspective the moment it happens.
Observe the Ego Within You That is Feeling Hurt Simply Because of Some Temporary Sound Waves (hurtful words) or Arrangement of Atoms (an Outfit)
Unless we are being physically attacked, it is only our ego that is being hurt when our emotions run hot at the office or anywhere else. In mindlessness, our pride feels stabbed by a thousand daggers. In mindfulness, we recognize our ego, we recognize the pain it feels, and instead of lashing out in its defense, we soothe it simply by giving it our attention.
We let it be, we let it cry and kick and scream if it likes, but we notice it for what it is and we notice that it is not who we are. Just as we don’t get mad at our hand for being a hand (because we know we are not our hand), we don’t react in anger because we realize our ego is just being an ego.
The ego was a great evolutionary advantage for perceiving immediate threats when humans lived in the wild. However, most modern offices are relatively safe and we no longer need to let our egos dictate our lives.
Managing Emotions at Work by Using Mindfulness to See the Big Picture
When we become so fixated on a perceived slight, we become the opposite of mindful, we become mindless. Rather than see the big picture, all we can see is our tiny perception of the situation. We become unable to see things from other people’s perspective. Rather than become inquisitive, we feel hurt and we are more likely to lash out and not think clearly.
When we become inquisitive, miscommunications can be cleared up, mutually beneficial solutions can be uncovered, and common ground can be found. All without anger, jealousy or hatred.
Luckily, practicing mindfulness at work right at the moment we need it most is not so hard. And the more we practice, the better we get at managing our emotions.
6 Ways to Remind Yourself to Be Mindful When Things Get Heated:
1. Know what situations trigger your emotions to run hot. Take a moment to be aware of your breath, body and thoughts before going into that situation.
2. Regularly check your body and thoughts everyday to make a habit of checking for any of those physical reactions to stress mentioned above.
3. When those physical manifestations occur, such as increased heart rate, take deep, slow, conscious breaths. Breathe all the way into your belly to slow down and calm your body and mind. The sooner you catch it happening, the easier it is to manage your emotions. Over time, you will know yourself so well that you can catch yourself even before you get stressed and prevent it!
4. Write a post-it note on your computer that reminds you to stay mindful and present, such as “Now,” or it could be the word “Breathe” backwards so only you know what it means.
5. Maybe there’s a reminder to be present you could keep in your pocket or on your desk, like a rock, crystal, or Buddha statue.
6. Or you can simply put your hand into a subtle meditation hand position by tapping the tip of your thumb to the tip of your forefinger. This is not only a great reminder. It will also physically put you in a calmer state as you shift your focus out of your head and into your fingertips.
All of these reminders are great ways to use mindfulness for managing emotions at work.
How Mindfulness Benefits Companies in Addition to Managing Emotions at Work
As you can see, a little mindfulness in the office can go a long way in managing emotions at work. It can even improve relationships, communication and the overall atmosphere of a company. Not to mention increase productivity, profits, creativity, focus, and quality of work.
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