My younger daughter was sitting face to face with Talking Tom of the iPad. Those familiar with him, know that he says what you say… back at you. And so pointing to me, she told him, “She’s my mummy!”. Tom, instantaneously and equally emphatically responded, “She’s my mummy!”. She raised her voice, “No! She’s my mummy!”, to which he replied, “No! She’s my mummy!”. The debate over who I belong to continued for a few minutes resulting in my daughter becoming quite frustrated at Talking Tom’s non- cooperation. Till I swept him and the iPad out of her hands. Steve Jobs didn’t give his child the iPad 🙂
It occurred to me that this is not a sequence of conversation limited to Tom and my daughter. We adults are often on the giving and receiving end of ‘Talking Tom conversations’ too.
Do these sound familiar…?
We are expecting an e-mail from someone. It hasn’t arrived. We’ve made up our minds that this person is incompetent or they’re not giving us the priority we deserve. We convey this in our tone of voice, the words we choose. The conversation goes nowhere. there is acrimony and the work doesn’t get done. We wonder why.
We’re home after a bad day , busy flipping though WhatsApp pictures, Facebook and Twitter, pretty much simultaneously. Between screens, the kids are hankering for attention. Irritably, we raise our voice, tell them they have no manners and they hanker some more. We wonder why decibel levels are so high at home.
We’re often so preoccupied with stories in our mind; the argument with our spouse, the misunderstanding with our friend, feedback from our boss, a client meeting that did not go as planned, that we don’t really disengage from the last interaction before engaging in the next. The stories intermingle and we wonder why we’re not getting through to people. It’s not just about communication.
There is no denying the pressures of daily life. David Rock, an expert in the field of Neurosciences, Leadership and Coaching talks about 3 validated tools to manage pressure in today’s demanding times.
- Labeling- It is an act of putting a symbolic language onto an emotional state. When you describe what you are feeling in a couple of words, you end up regulating emotions, even if that was not the intention. It has been researched that putting words on an emotional state reduces the stress response.
- Mindfulness- If we are not mindful, we have no capacity to ‘experience our experience’ or change it. Mindfulness is the capacity to observe our own experience and it gives us the capacity to intervene. It also helps us to know ourselves more and be more compassionate.
- Re-Appraisal- This is re framing or re-interpreting situations in a way that reduces our threat response.
Let’s see how this might work.
I get off a less than harmonic telecon this morning. I feel like biting someone’s head off. Before I leave the room, I take a few deep breaths and label my emotions, “I’m feeling angry and misunderstood. But I’m going to let that go now and be present in the current moment” As a conscious act, I put aside the unpleasant feelings. (Labeling)
I have another conversation lined up. I decide to become a little more centered, lest I carry over my bad mood. I close my eyes and pay attention to my breathing. Feel the in- breath and then the out-breath.Repeat, till I’m present and focused. (Mindfulness)
I think of the unpleasant start to my day in another way. At least, I wrote a blog post due to the experience 🙂 (Re-appraisal)