My client took heart and approached a truck driver who parked frequently and again today in front of her restaurant. She explained to him that the truck was blocking the view of the street for her guests and if he could please park the truck in a different spot today and in the future. What happened? Instead of responding to the request or cooperatively seeking a solution, the truck driver let down a torrent of negativity on her, “Why is that, this is a public parking lot! I can park wherever I want! Shit Germany. Nowhere is left alone. The streets are full and everyone is annoying. And this be.. government. I would like to emigrate…”.
Long-term effect of negative emotions
The angry outburst of the truck driver my client “hit” was in the morning. But the incident kept her angry and blocked in her work all day. She wanted to make orders and the shift schedule, but her thoughts kept going back to the angry outburst – and also her reaction to it. “I wish I hadn’t brought that one up.” Or “What a …, how antisocial” or “I wish I had stood up to him more.”
Would have, could have, should have!
These negative emotions and thought cycles led to my client being taken out of her work concept again and again. She was virtually blocked in her competence, her work performance was greatly reduced.
Blowback or retreat with appeasement.
The emotional reaction of another, in this case the defensiveness and negativity of the truck driver, can quickly overwhelm or “hit you over the head” personally, especially if it is “poured out” on you unexpectedly and we are not practiced at it.
What I often observe with men in this case is a rough exchange of blows with lots of swear words. Emotions boil up and make noise.
With women I observe rather a retreat, perhaps still a gentle persistence. After that, they withdraw inwardly. The emotions boil up with them, too – but the lid remains closed!
If we are not practiced in the exchange of blows or in holding back – like politicians or policemen, this can quickly lead to such incidents ruining our day and blocking our ability to work, as in the case of my client above.
Taming and calming negative thoughts and emotions
Would-have-been thoughts, anger, rage and generally bad feelings sometimes cloud us to such an extent that we can no longer do our work properly. We want to get something done, we set to work, but we lack the strength and energy. We are not concentrated and make mistakes. In conversations, we no longer listen properly. Our thoughts keep wandering to the incident. We are virtually no longer able to work.
What can you do to get out of negative emotions and blocking thought cycles in order to work focused and present again?
5 ways to manage blocking thoughts and emotions.
- Think worst-case scenarios: think about what could have gone worse. It can comfort, appease, or reassure me to know through these thoughts that it wasn’t quite that bad. It could have been worse!
- Problem-Solving Sway: Connect the negative thoughts and gestures with Positive thoughts and gestures from a successful/pleasant situation. Repeat negative-positive-negative-positive 3 times. What’s around the corner now? Often it is relaxation and a smile. There are better moments too!
- Write it down: Yes, write down the incident and especially your thoughts and feelings about it. This gets them out of your head and onto paper. You could reread them whenever you want – and put them aside for now.
- Describe my hurt/triggered inner team member: Think about what part of you has been hurt or pinged. This team member belongs to you and is important. Acknowledge it, praise it for “coming to the forefront.” Comfort it, reassure it. The situation is over, he/she can step back into the background or devote himself/herself to other things!
- Physical activity, breathing, tapping: Distracting, physical activities such as weight training or jogging are ideal in reducing stress. Less time-consuming are own or special breathing and tapping exercises.
Get yourself out of emotional fog to get back to work.
Taming or calming negative emotions and breaking through blocking thought cycles is possible. It takes two things above all: first, your will to do it, and second, practice.
Because you hopefully don’t get into too many blowups or have to endure “negativity barrages,” “dry runs” are the best way to learn to expand your behavioral repertoire and manage the emotions that follow from negative interactions with others. This will help you counter future negative thought cycles. You will ensure that you can address unpleasant issues and quickly return to productive and focused work afterwards.
I am happy to support you in this process.
Worst-case scenario, brainwriting, or “getting it off your chest” are techniques that I’m sure you’ll find somewhere, but I’m more familiar with them from conversations and exercises.
I learned about tapping and problem-solving swaying from Sebastian Mauritz.
The inner team member is a concept according to Schulz von Thun, the handling with it comes from my training in ORSC(TM).
Emotion fog, i.e. being foggy, I know from books by Lisa Birkenbiehl.