5 things to avoid when you want to help someone

5 things to avoid when you want to help someone

5 things to avoid when you want to help someone

When we see someone needs help, it is natural we want to help. It could be with our spouse, child, sibling or colleagues at work. But, often, what we are trying to do to help, isn’t helping at all. In this post, I am going to share 5 things you should avoid using when you want to help someone.

The neighbor next door…

I was in a mall one day and needed to go to the bathroom. As I was finishing up my business, I overheard the conversation of a woman and a child in the cubicle next to me. I first heard some crackling sound from the door in the next cubicle, which I guess the child must have been playing with the door’s lock. Within a few seconds, I heard the woman shouting away “Stop it!”….followed by “Why are you always not listening? You are going to break the lock and you will be caught by the police…”

I was quite taken aback by the woman’s response. I suppose she had good intentions to teach the child not to damage public property, and the consequences of doing so. But, I also wondered how effective her communication is. I can imagine the child feeling lousy and fearful (that the police may arrest her!).

Avoid doing these if you really want to help…

5 things to avoid when helping someone

In our daily lives, we can be of a better help to people around us by improving our own communications. How often do you see a staff who has a problem and want to seek help from their manager but end up being lectured or questioned to death by the manager? Or, have you seen a parent labelling and threatening a child (just like the case of the woman and the child in the toilet)? As a friend, when we try to help our friends, how often do we try to simply reassure them?

Below are 5 things I have seen both myself and others using and which aren’t actually going to help the other person who needs help. So, let’s try to avoid these 5 things if we really want to help the other person!

1. Advising

“What I would do is…,” “Why don’t you…,” “Let me suggest…”

This is one of the most common roadblock we create in our communication! Before we reply with an advice, ask ourselves – is the person really asking for our advice?

At first glance, advice may not seem like a roadblock.  But, by giving advice when the other person is not seeking for one, we are actually dismissing their feelings. If the person does need a solution, let’s use open and solution focused questions to help them build confidence and skills to develop their own solutions instead!

2. Questionning

“Why did you do that?…,” “And then what did you say?…,” “Did you inform your teacher?….” “Why didn’t you tell your supervisor earlier?…”

This really reminds me of my ex-manager, who will ask many many questions whenever a staff presents a problem. Rather than focusing on solution outcome, the manager was focused on finding root cause and blame, and then providing her solution to the problem.

Such questioning ignore the feeling the other person is experiencing which can be interpreted by him/her as a lack of understanding or caring. In addition, the questioner seems to take over the problem solving rather than allowing the other person learn to problem solve.

3. Labelling

“You’re being a worrier…,” “You are such a naughty child…”, “You are a slow learner…”

This can be quite common in parenting…I used to be guilty of this too.

Many times, we tend to start our messages with these statements….We don’t mean to put the other person down, but these responses actually make the person feel foolish, inferior or wrong. In fact, such responses can have very damaging effects on their self-image and self-esteem.

4. Threatening

“If you don’t, then…,” “You’d better or…,” “Stop that, or I’ll…”

Again, we may at times use such phrases quite loosely. For instance, I grew up hearing so many parents telling their child “If you don’t study hard and get good academic grades, then you will be a failure in life…”

Such responses not only fail to motivate the other party but may also create resistance and resentment.

5. Reassuring

“Don’t worry…,” “Look on the bright side…” “Everyone goes through this…”

This is quite a common response amongst friends, isn’t it?

When we reassure someone without really listening to their problems and asking what they need, we are actually dismissing their feelings. Hence, this is not as helpful as we thought it is!

Next time before you say something…

So, next time before you reply to your friend, child, spouse, staff or colleague when they are telling you their problem…..think before you do so! Listen to them and reflect on what they are feeling and needing at that moment. Sometimes this is all they need!

How to get your child to share their problems with you?

How to get your child to share their problems with you?

Do you notice difficulty in getting your child to share their problems with you? Whether it is a problem or question or dilemma your child is experiencing, do you wish your child will be open and share with you?

The truth is, many of us sometimes forget that the way we respond to our child in our daily interactions actually pave the future as to whether our child trust us enough to come to us for advise, consultation, or a chat about their problems. If we tend to be generally dismissing, or disapproving of their emotions and responses, it is less likely our child will trust us to be able to show empathy and non-judgmental. Isn’t this what we all look for when we confide in our spouse or friends?

Creating a safe space, building that trust and rapport with our child is necessary. Just because we are parents does not mean we automatically earn our child’s trust for them to talk to us about their problems or dilemma.

My son’s dilemma

My son, who is 9 years old, recently came to me about his dilemma situation with his friend in school. So, it turned out his friend had been giving “tips” to friends who purchase food or drinks on his behalf during recess. And, my son thought it was a great way for him to earn some side income. Truth is, he is also puzzled with his friend’s behaviour (why would someone give away his money this easily?), and he didn’t feel quite right about taking the money.

So, he came to me one day and made me promise that I would not “scold” him or tell anyone after he tells me his “secret”. He shared about his friend’s behavior and asked me about my opinion about it and whether it is “wrong” to accept the tip. At that point, he shared little about his own behavior (the fact that he did accept the tip!). After I shared with him my views and my values, he just kept acknowledged and moved on with his daily activity.

It was only a week later that he came to me again, and finally revealed that he had been accepting the tips from this friend. Long story short, it took us a while before we came to terms of what value is important to us here and he decided to return the money to his friend. And I thanked him for sharing his “secret” with me.

The Hard Way…

Trust me, as parent, it wasn’t easy for me to not probe more questions when my son first came to me ..or not to impose what I expect him to do. Not to mention it will probably be less time consuming if I had just told him on first occasion the action to take.

But I took the hard way as I want to understand what is going on in my child’s mind. I want my child to be open and share his problems with me. I want to use this experience as a way to connect and bond with him while teaching him the right values and behaviors.

Of course, we may not always be able to use this method and there will be times where we have to be the disciplinarian immediately. Below are 3 guiding principles I generally ascertain:

  • There is no immediate harm to self and others arising from his action or behavior
  • My child’s behavior is not breaching any laws or rules
  • There is time (i.e. no urgency in solving the problem right there and then)

5 Tips if you want your child to share their problems with you

How to get your child to share their problems with you?

If you want to be your child’s friend and share their inner world, and still be their emotion coach…then it is important to keep these 5 tips in mind…

  1. Pace with your child where they are in their world…be empathic and put yourself in their shoes. If you attempt to lead without pacing, it is not likely to work.
  2. Share your perspectives and how it links back to the family value you wish to impart with your child. This not only teaches them what’s important about the value, and also helps to develop their thinking process
  3. Allow them to share their perspectives and hold back the urge to dismiss or disapprove their views or ideas
  4. Where problem solve is needed, give your child opportunity to come up with solutions. Guide them to choose their solution and allow them to bear with the consequence if their solution does not work out.
  5. Where there is misbehavior, discipline the child while letting the child know the misbehavior that is inappropriate and the consequence for the misbehavior. Do not label the behavior as identity e.g. you are naughty so you will be punished.

Remember, if we are patient and take the child’s experience as emotional connection and bonding with them, our child will open up and share with us about their world, their challenges and problems. And, we can then use these opportunities to teach them life skills that are going to last them a life time.

How to respond respectfully in a conflict?

How to Respond Respectfully in a Conflict?

I heard of two failed marriages in the past two weeks alone, and several other arguments where only one party wins and the other loses. And, I wonder how many of these outcomes could have been avoided if we all practice how to respond respectfully, even in a conflict? Easier said, I am also guilty at times of being defensive or aggressive when my lid is flipped. But, I am committed to be a better communicator. What about you?

So, this week’s blog is a reminder of the steps we can all practice to make our communications more meaningful and effective.

respond respectfully

As mentioned in last week’s blog, the first step to take when we are upset is to respond with your problem “I” message, followed by reflective listening. So, what happens if the other person does not accept your message or also has a problem?

How to respond respectfully when the other person also has a problem…

When we realize that both person have a problem, both parties may still be experiencing the heightened emotional states. We may also have spoken or acted in an inappropriate manner. And regret it later.

Actually, it is possible to respond respectfully if we choose to. And it becomes easier with practice…

1. Acknowledge that both person’s needs are important. Ask the other person if they are willing to partner with you to find a solution to get to a win-win outcome.

2. Define both person’s needs.

3. Brainstorm solutions – Take turns to come up with potential solutions. At this point, it is important NOT TO criticize or challenge the feasibility of the solution yet.

4. Evaluation & Choose Best Solution – Only after both parties have come up with the solutions, then, evaluate and state your preferred solution and how it would meet both persons’ needs. This may be a process, and so important to agree on a solution that meets the needs of both person.

How to respond respectfully when the other person doesn’t care…

Yes, this would require more patience and influencing skills as it is values, or beliefs at odds!

1. Look for shared values – It always helps if we can restate the shared value we have with the other person. Why? Because they would be more inclined to engage in your discussion if they can see a common goal or value.

2. Model the behavior you wish to see – If possible, we want to be the model of the behavior we wish to see. This goes with parenting! When we model the behavior or value we wish the other person to have, the other person will be more likely to follow.

3. Consult

a. Get your facts first and ask if the person is willing to listen to you.

b. Share your opinions with “I” messages. Reflective Listen.

c. And, leave the final decision to the other person! Resist the temptation to hassle or use power!

The last step is often the hardest to do! And, of course there may be certain situations where we do have to use power (e.g. where law or safety is concerned).

But before you act, ask yourself this first – Is your intention to get what you want and not mind that it will hurt your relationship with that person? Or would you rather influence to get what you want and at the same time build better relationship with the person? Choose what serves you.

How to say you are upset in a smarter way?

How to say you are upset in a smarter way?

In my last blog post, I wrote about the need to express when we disagree or are upset about someone or a situation. This is so we don’t build up and explode like the volcano. When we express our problem, we also do not want to appear as bullies. Neither do we want to beat around the bush and be wishy washy.

In fact, I can think of my ex-colleague who would use more positive statements or encouragers before he finally spoke about his problem or disagreement. I don’t know if you feel the same, as I would be puzzled with where the conversation was going and when I finally realized he was trying to communicate his problem, I went “duh…” and I could visualize my eyes rolling. Why couldn’t he just go straight to the point?

So, how can we say we are upset in a smarter way?

I felt disrespected…

There was once I felt defeated by my client, a 10 year old child who turned up for the session and refused to enter the room. Even as the teacher tried to coax her, and I stood by the door asking her to get her foot in, she simply refused. Instead, she stood outside the door with her arms crossed and eyes rolling every now and then.

upset

Yes, she pretty much looked like this.

I went back home, feeling pretty bumped.

And I was determined to tell her I deserve the respect.

As expected, in the next session, the child did not want to enter the room again. So, I took my chance to express my problem. And then I looked at her, waited while matching her posture (arms crossed) and saw her facial expressions soften, and so did I.

She then told me about her problem and together, we spent a few minutes to brainstorm our agreed solution.

3 steps to say you are upset in a smarter way

So, if you know that you are upset with someone or situation, you own a problem. Remember, the other person may or may not have this problem at all. And, you will not know until you express it.

And, this is my 3 steps to say I am upset in a smarter way.

Step #1 – Express your problem using “I” message

Many of you may have heard about “I” message. But what many may not notice is how the message should be drafted. Often, we may use words that the other person can perceive the meaning differently or disagree with. Hence, it is important we use language that illustrates the actual concrete facts of the behavior.

Using my earlier example, I could respond with:

“When you stood by the door so angrily and refused to enter the room, I feel disrespected.”

If I had done so, my client could disagree and said that she was not angry. My I-message would then go down the drain!

A better way to respond would be:

“When you stood by the door with your arms folded and did not enter the room, I feel disrespected.”

As you can see, my client would not be able to argue with the fact that:

  • She did have her arms folded
  • She did not enter the room
  • And she also cannot argue with my feelings!

Step #2 – Reflective Listen

Once you have expressed your i-message, you reflectively listen to the other person’s response until you get a signal from them that they feel “understood”. You may need to restate your i-message. Remember, you may alter your i-message but do not change the meaning of your i-message.

Step #3 – All good, or Problem-Solve.

If the other person didn’t realize you had a problem, and they agree to change, then you are all good!

But, very often, the other person may have a conflict of needs i.e. the person also has a problem! For instance, when I delivered my i-message to my client, she responded that she wanted to know when she could be done with the coaching sessions. In her mind, she already accomplished what she wanted. Now that I also know her problem, we then discussed how we can achieve both our needs.

And in some other times, the other person may have a conflict of values i.e. the person does not really care about your problem!

Depending on whether it is a conflict of needs or value, we would tackle the problem solving differently. I’ll share more in future posts!

A few tips…

By the way, a few tips to bear in mind even when you are expressing you are upset…

  1. Always know the outcome you want to achieve before you communicate. If you are experiencing multiple feelings, ask yourself first, what exactly are you upset about? It is important to regulate your emotions before you deliver your message.
  2. Rapport is still key. Remember, even when we disagree, we still want to establish rapport with the person, hence the reflective listening is essential. Match the person’s gestures, posture, voice speed or tone, etc.
  3. Always check your i-message that it is non-arguable!

“Communication is only effective when we communicate in a way that is meaningful to the recipient, not ourselves.”

What do you do when you disagree?

What do you do when you disagree?

What do you do when you disagree with a person or situation? Were there times you did not voice your view and let it affect you for days? Or, did you fight your way to win without considering the other’s needs?

I was working on my goal setting when I started to reflect on my relationships and communications with my husband and kids. And, I identified the gaps where I felt I could do better in my role as a wife and mother. Definitely, communications is one of them.

Whether it is self-defense, hide/escape, or I lose, you win method, it causes us to keep our thoughts and feelings inside us…making us feel helpless and trapped. Or it could be the other extreme where you get into a war to get what you needed.

I’m definitely guilty of one of these at times. 😬

Is it good to always keep quiet…or give in?

I used to have this tendency to keep quiet…to think my needs are not important, or achieve peace is more important.

And the result?

I become a volcano that does not let out steam and one day decide to erupt!

No, not good to be a bully either!

We may disagree and want to have our needs met, but so do the other person!

And the resulting outcome on the relationship with other person turns a little more sour. So, unless this is what you want, I wouldn’t recommend this aggresive approach either.

What about you?

How do you go about when you disagree with your loved ones? Or manager, co-worker or staff at work? Or friends in a dinner party? Perhaps even with the server at the restaurant?

Achieve a Win-Win situation when I disagree

Yes, this will be one of my goals in 2021 with regards to my communications with my husband and kids. I have all the tool kit on how exactly to do this, and what I need is to practice them. I’ll share more in coming weeks of how you can use this simple communication technique when you disagree. With practice, you will be able to influence and achieve a win-win easily….

🤍❤️🤍❤️ with love & empowerment, elynn

Do you dare to dream your life?

Do you dare to dream your life?

Before you set your goals, do you dare to dream your life?

Do you set your goals that then bring you a step, small or big, closer to your dream of what you want your life will be?

As I begin on my 2020 reflections and 2021 goal setting, it daunts upon me that I have been pretty sloppy when I go about setting my goals. In the past, I usually do this exercise during our two weeks long December holidays (which isn’t going to happen this year!). And, I often had a hard time coming up with goals! They would end up to be a goal to address a problem I may have, or a goal to “challenge me” and this goal could be something that sounds cool or trendy.

There is nothing wrong with that, except that I have not asked myself what is important about that goal to me. And often, it is actually not that important to me, which is why I often do not achieve them by the end of the year! Does this happen to you too?

So, this year I want to do it differently. And first, I begin to dream.

As I begin this exercise, I started to visualize myself in all the different roles I play. I started to dream a little about what each role looks like if I were doing it at my best. And, I really loved this exercise! I felt like I have given myself the permission to dream and to dare to dream what I want, and not what our society or people around us expect us to do.

Road Block

If you have not already tried this, I highly encourage you to do so! It may not be easy especially if you have this block in your mind stopping you to see far. Stopping you to feel free. Stopping you to hear what you would love to hear.

And this is normal.

This also came up when I was working with my client on the next steps in her life as a whole. When she metaphorically told me how she is unable to imagine how her “dream house” looks like, let alone seeing the path to building it, it is like these invisible boundaries preventing her to even dare to dream.  At the end of our session, I was absolutely over the moon to see that she has finally empowered herself to want to take a step forward, to start dreaming how that house will be like.


And for a few days, this kept coming back to my mind. Don’t we often allow our own self-limiting beliefs or thoughts to stop us?  Definitely me. It can due to many reasons. Many legitimate and rightful reasons.


But, ask yourself – how does this self-limiting belief serve you? Absolutely not well. 


We know deeply that all creations and innovations begin with a silly idea, a silly thought.  And the idea manifests as we dream about it, as we believe it and then take starting actions to make it come true. 

Reflect


So, ask yourself this. How many times have you stop yourself from dreaming of a new idea, a new possibility, a new future?  And is it because:

You allowed your past experiences tell you this is not going to work?
You let someone’s words tell you this is not going to work?
Or, you doubted your own capabilities and what you capable to become?
You let the big, courageous dream overwhelm you and made you not take the first step of your comfort zone?

And for those of you who are parents, ask yourself:
How many times have you told your child not to imagine or dream because:


The idea or dream is not “realistic”?
The idea does not suit them or align to this society’s norms?  You think they are not going to make it and you fear failure for them? You think that’s silly and a “waste of time”?


Dare to Dream

Dare to Dream

Dare to dream does not mean you have to do crazy things. It just means you empower yourself to listen to your inner self and allow yourself to explore possibilities before you decide your choices and path.

As you begin your 2021 goal setting, I hope you can also allow yourself to dream. Hope this video also inspires you to start dreaming.

And, have I mentioned it is free to dream, isn’t it?

🤍❤️🤍❤️

Happiness at Work in Asia Survey

Happiness at Work in Asia Survey

What do you think is the average Happiness at work in Asia like? In a recent survey conducted across over 80 participants primarily based in Asia, with over 95% working in Asia and 75% in Singapore, the average Happiness at Work score is reported at 65%. Within this population, 19% have a happiness at work score of >80%, indicating they are flourishing at work. On the other hand, 18% have a score of less than 50%.

While happiness and satisfaction are clearly subjective concepts, it is worthwhile to understand and take a holistic view of how work impacts our overall life. Especially when work takes up a large part of our time. In Singapore where I am based in, the average Singaporean works an average of 43-44 hours according to the Ministry of Manpower statistics. This translates to over a third of our time awake (assuming a 6-7 hour sleep a day). In fact, I know of many working professionals who work closer to 50-60 hours a week. In my corporate life days, I was working an average of 60-70 hours a week!

When it comes to happiness at work, various studies have also suggested that people who are happy at work are up to 12% more productive than those who are unhappy at work.

So, if an individual’s happiness at work can positively affect both the individual and company’s performance, we would be interested to know how we can increase our happiness at work, wouldn’t we?

happiness at work

Top 3 Contributors to Happiness at Work

91% of participants felt they are given sufficient autonomy in going about doing their work

Close to 90% of participants agreed they are a good performer and utilize their strengths at work. 

Over 80% of participants reported they have good relationships with their co-workers and managers, and have built a good network of relationships within the organization.


Bottom 3 Contributors to Happiness at Work:

Only 37% of participants reported they have a mentor or coach who provides guidance in their career progression.

About 45% of participants agree they have a good idea of where they will be in 3-5 years. 

About 53% of participants are clear on the actions they need to take to reach the next promotion.

So, how can we increase our happiness at work?

1. Visualize where you want to be in 3-5 years

Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years?

This question is important for anyone. This is what brings meaning to our lives. Visualizing where you want to be, what kind of roles you want to hold, or what kind of work you want to be doing gives you motivation and satisfaction. This does not necessarily mean you always need to have big ambitious goals or be the next Steve Jobs. It just means that you are clear on where you want to head towards and you plan your track accordingly.

2. Getting your next promotion

Assuming you do want to get a promotion, when do you want to get it? And, how do you go about to get it?

First, I encourage you to do a self reflection of your competency and performance vis-à-vis your peers and benchmark against the requirements of the role you want to be promoted to. Then, it is really important that you speak to your manager AND a HR manager or another manager who has an influence in the promotion decision making process.

If you want to get more ideas on how to go about this, I have elaborated more in each of these 3 blog posts:

 3. Celebrate success with your team

It is also noted in the survey that 40% of participants did not agree they or their teams celebrate success, big or small. 

This is actually an area most of us can improved on easily (within our control!). For those of you who are managers, time to reflect on your own teams! Are you celebrating success frequently enough?  And even if you are not managers, you can still be pro-active in suggesting to your manager or team mates to celebrate!  The point here is not necessarily to have extravagent meals or parties.  In fact, based on my experience, many people are happy to be just “recognized” on success meaning just talking about it! And, then have a regular team meal or drinks to incorprate the many successes and learnings!

4. Increase the work where you experience flow

When we experience engagement, or “flow”, we become fully engaged and immersed in the activity. When we feel engaged, time just flies by and we forget about everything else. Floods of positive neurotransmitters and hormones boost your feelings of well-being and help us stay in the present and enjoy the activities that make us feel focused and involved. When we are able to experience this flow on a regular basis at work, we will feel far more satisfied. While some of us may not be fortunate enough to do a job we are 100% passionate about, it is possible still to engage in tasks or projects that we enjoy learning or mastering. Identify what those are and speak to your manager to see how you can incorporate them into your responsibilities.

5. A good coach or mentor

Last and not the least, you need to have a good coach or mentor! I cannot stress enough how important a good mentor or coach is and can make a huge difference to your life. When it comes to your career specifically, a good coach or mentor can guide you to plan your career path and possibilities, where you see yourself in the next couple of years, evaluate your strengths and development areas, strategize your conversations and next steps to get the next promotion, and more.

Take charge and increase your happiness at work today!

How to calm someone down

How to Calm Someone Down

In my last blog, I shared a few tips on my routine to stay calm and keep cool. Then, I thought – what about how to calm someone down?

How many times have you experienced a situation where the other person is seemingly out of control in their anger or anxiety? It could be your partner who came back from a rough day and venting out over something really trivial at home? Or, your child having a meltdown. It could even be your manager or co-worker.

“Don’t Tell Me to Calm Down!”

How many times have you tried telling the other person to “calm down”, or “just relax”, or “don’t get so upset” only to make the other person more angry or anxious? Or, have you also responded back in a somewhat similar manner “stop your nonsense” or “can’t you be more rationale?” which leads to a heated argument?

Well, why does this happen?

Remember how our brain processes emotions?

First, if you recall, I shared in my earlier blog on how our brains process emotions. When we are experiencing a high energy feeling such as anger or anxiety, our sympathetic nervous system is triggered and we are just not thinking straight! So, there is really no point in trying to talk sense to the other person at this point, is there?

Emotion dismissing, disapproving or coaching?

Second, we all want to be seen, heard and felt. Yes, including times when we express our feelings in a negative or out of proportion manner. So, when someone tells you to “calm down”, or “stop your nonsense”, we feel being ignored. In emotion coaching, this is what we called being “emotion dismissing” or “emotion disapproving”.

So, how can we calm someone down than?

Feel

Feel it like how you would feel it if you were the other person. Recognizing and accepting the person’s feelings does not mean that we agree with their behaviors. It simply means we are with them listening to them. By being empathic and understanding before we decide to give our advice is sometimes just what the person needs.

Act

Now, it is time to express your empathy, advice / problem solve, and set limits on the behaviors (especially with kids). Remember, the other person is at the peak of their anger or anxiety, and we want to avoid emotion dismissing or emotion disapproving statements or questions. Instead, use more empathic statements.

how to calm someone down

Often, we may think that the best way is to respond in the most soothing and calm voice we can. Yet, we realize that our message does not seem to come across to the person!

Well, this is because it may seem to be belittling the person’s feelings. Remember the feeling of anger or anxiety is the same as the fight-flight-freeze response triggered by our amygdala. Can you imagine you see a snake and want to warn your friend of danger and your friend responded in a nonchalant way? This is exactly how someone feels when they are angry and the other person responded in a calm way!

Well, try this.

So, I learnt this trick from my coach and it seriously works especially with kids!!! In fact, I just applied this approach twice just this past week with two clients (kids) I was working with! I also recommend this approach for positive emotions. When we want to build rapport and influence the other person, we always want to match their energy level.

  • Start your response initially by matching their energy level – raise the volume of your voice or even use your gestures to meet their emotions. Say something like “Oh OK” or “I get it!” ***Note, this is not the same as yelling, conversely, you need to stay calm and simultaneously match their volume level to demonstrate that you are capable of feeling what they are feeling! ***
  • If possible, repeat back their words, to confirm that you’ve listened (and are hearing the words and the meaning behind them). ***I have notice that when the person hears their own words, they may sometimes realize they might have over-reacted! ***
  • And then tone down your intensity lower (to induce more calmness….), complete the rest of your response to help problem solve. Perhaps, say “Can I suggest….” or “Shall we discuss what can be done…”
  • At the end when it becomes a proper conversation, bring in your thoughts on the person’s behavior.

Prevent it if you can

See

As we know, it will be great if we can help others remain calm before their steam goes off. While we may not always be able to control other people’s emotions, there are opportunities where we can be their emotion coach! Especially when it comes to our loved ones. For instance, try observing their facial expressions, gestures or tonality. Understanding the person’s usual expressions when they are in a calm state allows you to notice changes when there is a change in the person’s emotional state. And, this can be helpful for you to interject it before it becomes uncontrollable….

So, the next time you meet someone who is angry or anxious, you will be confident in responding back, will you not?

~ With love & empowerment, elynn

How to stay calm and keep your cool

How to stay calm and keep your cool

As I shared in my previous blogs, we get amygdala hijacks from time to time and it is helpful to review the underlying trigger. And, if you are like me, such feelings of losing control and acting in that moment of fit often make us regret afterwards. So, how can we stay calm and keep cool?

Thankfully, there are ways to retrain our amygdala as a means to rewire the neural connections in our brain that the situation does not need to be seen as a danger.

So, this week, I am sharing my daily routine that has helped me to stay calm. And, they really work! I have seen a transformative change in how much calmer and at peace I am. As a result, I see myself making better choices and decisions, which lead to better outcomes and a better me.

And, I would love to learn how you cope too, so drop me an email or comment below with your ideas.

3 Strategies to Stay Calm and Keep Cool

Stay Calm . Keep Cool

#1 – 10 to 20 Minutes of Daily Quiet Moment (or Meditation)

For those of you who do not meditate, telling you to meditate would be an overwhelming and unachievable task. Let alone, stay calm and keep cool!

But, how often have you gone by the entire day without a minute of quiet time? You are either rushing from one meeting to the next, from work to family, or squeezing in time to order your grocery or run that errand? This is often the reality of our lives, isn’t it?

So, I am going to challenge you to set aside 10 to 20 minutes each day of what I call your quiet moment. And whatever time it works for you, or if you wish to split it to 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening. That’s perfectly fine!

During this time, all you need to do is the following 2 things (and if you can add on the meditation, it’s a bonus!):

Set your Intention

Reflect on your intentions and what you want to choose to show up to the external world? Do you want to exude yourself as calm and confident? Or perhaps kind and positive? Regardless what your intention is, this intention you set will last you through the day.

I personally set aside the first 15-20 minutes of the morning after I brushed my teeth to do my meditation followed by intention setting for the day. My objective is to have this time undisturbed by emails, messages, or my son asking for my attention. So, I actually intentionally wake up earlier than the family so I can have this personal time for myself. My intention typically comprises my mantra of loving and kindness, and additional ones like confidence or calmness depending on what my day looks like. Once I set my intentions for the day, I try my best to stick with them. And, what does that mean? Go to tip #2!

Reflection

Reflect on the day (or the prior day) and ask yourself how the day has gone. What do you like and what do you dislike about your actions? What can you do more of what you like and change what you dislike? This is not about judging yourself and bashing yourself up for actions you wished you hadn’t taken. Rather, treat this as a learning experience to remain curious, explore and learn how you can be a better person. Today is a brand new day. A new opportunity. And, the day you can make a change.

Meditation

And, for those of you who wish to try out meditation, I highly recommend the free app Insight Timer. It has tons of free guided meditations for beginners.

#2 – Practise pausing before acting

How often have you spoken or acted before you pause to think about the intention of your response? Ever since I started to practice taking that one pause, and remind myself of my intention for the day, I have often been able to surprise myself with my response. When an unpleasant or perhaps even annoying situation happens, I would ask myself how my intentions of loving and kindness would want me to respond? Trust me, when I have to answer this question, most often than not, I would have calm down and able to keep my cool.

The key is to practice this as much as you can in your daily communications, so much so that it re-wire your brain to accept this as the new habit. And when the stressful moment triggers, you will be able to control and naturally take the pause that you need.

#3 – Reframing my perspective

I am sure you have heard from others asking you to change your perspectives. Perhaps, you even tell others to do that. And, how often have you told yourselves to change your perspective?

Yes, perhaps it is time to retrain your brain to reframe your perspective of situations. I personally like to use the blame versus outcome frame, as described below, for any negative or unpleasant events. Keep practicing and practicing, to the point that when a situation arises, your brain would automatically pick the helpful frame to use!

Blame versus Outcome Frame

Unfortunately, our default mind is a fault-finding mind. How often do you find yourself trying to find the “root cause” or “culprit”? When we do so, we are directly telling our brain to find the negative, which means we will also get a negative meaning back from our brain to respond negatively!

On the other hand, the outcome frame focuses on achieving the desired result. When you focus on this, your brain will be curious and find ways to solve the puzzle for you. And, when you are in a curious state, it is unlikely you will react in a fit of anger.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY

Remember, these strategies will work if you practice them consistently! If you can commit yourself to new and healthier habits for 21 days, I am certain you will notice the difference. You will do what’s good for you, won’t you?

With love & empowerment,

Elynn

One simple fact about your brain and emotions

One simple fact about your Brain and Emotions

There is one simple fact we should all know about our brain and that is the way it processes our emotions.  Do you recall the last time you lost control of your emotions and did something in the heat of the moment that you later regretted? This is when “we have lost it” to your partner or child, work colleague, or perhaps the driver of another car. And, you realized later on it was completely uncalled for, wasn’t it?

The Amygdala Hijack

In psychology, this is what we called an “Amygdala Hijack”, which was first introduced by psychologist Daniel Goleman in his book, “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ“.

brain

Before an Amygdala Hijack

When we see, hear, touch, or taste something, that sensory information first heads to our brain’s in the thalamus (relay station). The thalamus then relays that information to the pre-frontal cortex (thinking brain). From there, it is sent to the amygdala (emotional brain) which produces the appropriate emotional response.

During an Amygdala Hijack

However, when faced with a threatening situation, the thalamus sends sensory information to both the amygdala (emotional brain) and the pre-fronal cortex (thinking brain). If the amygdala senses danger, it makes a split-second decision to initiate the fight, flight or freeze response before your pre-frontal cortex has time to overrule it.

Fight-or-Flight or Freeze!

At a high biological level, our amygdala is like our super hero! It protects us from danger by reacting to threatening objects or events and send immediate rapid fire signals to our brain and body. Heart beats faster. Muscles tense. Blood pressure rises. Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenalin flood our system. More sweating. And many, many more reactions. To do what? To prepare our body for that fight, flight or freeze!

Imagine if you are in the jungle and a snake suddenly drops down in front of you from the tree branch! Yes, it is our amygdala that helps us to decide in that split second whether to fight the snake, flee from the snake or freeze!

And as we know, many of the threats we face today are symbolic and not necessarily physically endangering. For instance, when we’re angry, sad, or stressed the amygdala thinks there’s real imminent danger. And when our amygdala is triggered and shuts down the neural pathway to our prefrontal cortex, our prefrontal cortex loses it usual capabilities of problem solving, logic and reasoning!


Reflect

Last week, I shared the post about noticing what flipped your lid. Have you start noticing your recent emotional states and notice if there were triggering events that causes you to lose it? Have you been in that heated conflict with someone where you were not able to see broader or different perspectives? Worse still, did you even forget the positive things about that person?

Now that you know about this simple fact about your brain and emotions, what an Amygdala Hijack is and why your amygdala did what it did, do you notice things make more sense now?

If you have seen me 8-10 years ago, I was a very different person. Being in the highly fast paced stressful work environment and a new inexperienced mom, I have allowed myself to be affected by the environment. I snapped at people easily and react to situations instantaneously. I get triggered with the slightest unpleasant event. 

The Good News

Yes, the good news is that we can all re-train our amygdala. It takes time and is possible! I did! In next week’s blog, I will share simple changes you can make immediately in your life to retrain your amygdala. You don’t need to spend significant amount of time to achieve this!

With love & empowerment,

Elynn