In the end happiness is really about relationships, and now we know that our social world is important to our well being…in fact relationships are as important as eating and drinking. The foundation of great teams is relationship.
In their book The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz says that relationships can be a source of energy renewal….and as I’m sure you also know, trouble in relationships always mean drama. You see…we spend a lot of time thinking about ourselves in relationship to others.
Assistant Professor at the UCLA Department of Psychology Dr. Matthew Lieberman says that four out of five processes operating in the background when your brain is at rest involve thinking about yourself or other people.
To improve your relationships at home and at work here is one thing you can do: Increase your own level of self-awareness. You can increase your awareness by becoming more aware of your feelings instead of reliving the feeling over and over again by going into a story.
Understand Yourself to Understand Others
In one of my favorite books, From Chaos to Coherence, the author says the ability to accurately know what you think and feel will help you to understand others. If you lead others you need to be very perceptive, otherwise you are going to create lots of drama due to assumptions and projecting. If you want to cooperate with others, (teamwork) understanding what state they are in is very important, and you can’t do this unless you understand yourself.
The brain regions used to understand yourself are the same regions used to understand others.
This week learn how to label how you feel. Putting words to your feelings helps you become aware, and if you are feeling sad or angry, knowing how to label these feelings helps the negative feelings dissipate.
I just read an article on this written by Matthew Lieberman, the USLA professor, and he said that when you label an emotion it reduces the activity in the amygdale, and you start to feel better.
Now I want to make a distinction because this can be confusing. Another study that I use a lot in my talks, is from the American College for the Advancement of Medicine…recalling an angry experience for five minutes can suppress the immune system for as much as 6 hours.
Don’t go into “story.” There is a difference between re-living an experience, and labeling an emotion. An emotion is about how you FEEL….not what someone did to you. This is huge. When you label something it is as if you are taking ownership of it…and from a non physical perspective, the only thing you can really be responsible for is how you feel…your state of consciousness.
So….labeling an emotion, for example saying “I am angry” is good. Standing at the water cooler and griping about how you are doing more than your fair share is not good.
And here’s another distinction: I talk a lot about denial in my Stop Your Drama Methodology. A lot of us who lead, like to pretend we don’t’ experience drama so we suppress our emotions. That also does not work. In David Rock’s book, The Brain at Work, on page 112 he says suppressing negative emotions makes the blood pressure rise in the other person!
Here’s some research from Heartmath….There is an electromagnetic field that can be felt when you are within 10 feet of someone. So we have some ways of experiencing someone without being consciously aware of it.
In a nutshell…to be more aware, start labeling your emotions but avoid going into story about what happened. Simply own what you feel and take responsibility for that feeling and in no time, you will be more perceptive as a leader, and your relationships at home and at work will dramatically improve.