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The Emotional Minefield

Do You Know Where You’re Standing?


Are you living in an emotional minefield tiptoeing around other people? Or do others have to tiptoe around you?

Last month we discussed hyper-sensitivity and the challenges around giving and taking offense. So many of you reached out that I thought it might be helpful to take a closer look at some effective ways to deal with the pressures of these emotionally charged days, particularly with the holiday season just around the corner.

As previously mentioned in this series, the only power we have is being responsible for ourselves. It’s simply not possible to fully control how others behave.

Communicate with kindness when you feel hurt to clear up any misunderstanding and avoid triggering heightened sensitivity. Be prepared to listen if you have caused hurt. But this only works if everyone involved can rise above the situation, has a genuine desire to make things better instead of trying to establish righteousness. Forcing somebody’s unwilling apology to keep the peace only builds resentment and makes the situation more volatile and intractable.

So if you are interacting with short fused people or others must interact with your short fuse, here are some immediate and effective strategies that will help:

When the situation is about to blow and emotional buttons are pressed, walk away. It sounds so simple but to put some distance between you and the trigger is enough to break the cycle. It’s our reactive, knee jerk response that escalates the tension. Buttons can only be pressed if allowed.

Don’t be too quick to defend yourself unless the circumstances truly call for it, if you are genuinely in danger. Explain yourself to increase understanding, yes, but don’t try to change somebody’s mind or mood. An attempt to establish rightness only creates more pushback.

Show by example. Behavior is contagious and your calm will help defuse an emotionally charged situation. Acting out needs an audience; anger, outrage and indignation only keep it going.

Humor: Much of what we fight over is totally absurd and unworthy of upset. To see the funny side of an over-blown situation gives it some perspective and allows us to speak the truth in a way that is easier to accept.

It’s truly miraculous that we have the power to create the kind of world we want. The more understanding we are, the more understood we can hope to be. Trusting the universal law that what goes around comes around means that we can relax. All we need do is care for our own behavior and let the universe do the rest.