Every so often, I find an article that I know you or someone you know might enjoy reading. Today, I would like to share with you an article my friend Sarah Anand Anma, Relationship Mentor and founder of Art of Relationship recently wrote.
Sarah and I agree on the value of breathing — beyond the fact that it keeping us from turning blue and passing out. Enjoy her article and see my notes at the end….
Are you emotional about others being emotional?
We are trained, either through nature or nurture to react when someone else is in an emotional state.
A common theme with my clients is: “they get upset and then I get upset.”
This is a very natural state of being but one that creates two problems instead of one. If someone near me is in a heightened emotional state, it can be contagious. However, if I can breathe and say to myself, “That is interesting, they are having a tough time.” Then I can be free and also be more of a support, if that is appropriate.
If my friend or loved one is caught in a dance of emotions or drama, I am certainly free to dance along with them. And I am too familiar with how inviting it is! I find that when I refrain from the dance and instead, stand back and observe, that we both can benefit. This can create a space for diffusing the emotional state instead of escalating it.
Now, how do we attain this lofty goal?
- You must breathe. There can be no peace unless there is breath.
- You must make certain that your tanks are full. What are you doing to take care of yourself?*
- Keep breathing!
- Practice saying to yourself, “That’s interesting.”
- Cultivate a heart of compassion for yourself and others.
When we refrain from emotionally responding to other’s emotions, we disengage from being responsible for them. We can’t possibly be responsible for both their emotional states and our own. By focusing on what we can manage, we can give others the breathing room to have the experience that they need to have in this time and space. In that breathing room, healing can occur.
Your Assignment: Next time someone is emotional in your vicinity, breathe and say to yourself, “That is interesting.” Try it with something less engaging than your beloved or family member first, like when you see someone drive recklessly or cut in line. Notice what comes up for you and breathe some more! As they say: lather, rinse, repeat.
* This can include things like enough sleep, healthy food, and time with friends, viewing or making art, etc.
The Need to Breathe
Breathing is more than supplying oxygen to your lungs; it profoundly influences your mood, how your brain functions, how sensitive your nerves are, and how tired or alert you feel, I could go on and on about the benefits…. Breathing seems simple enough and learning to control how I breathe is the most useful non-verbal I’ve learned.
Breathing naturally and comfortably, no matter the situation, delivers a non-verbal message of confidence and poise.
Breathing, while natural, isn’t always easy to control. Just as your eyes respond automatically to emotional stimuli, so do changes in your breathing. Changing how you breathe in a situation is often reactive, not proactive. You can tell yourself to breathe low, full complete breaths as you face someone already emotional; but the nervous system frequently takes over.
Many times, you may not even be aware that your breathing has become rapid and shallow until you find yourself searching for words or feeling as though you can’t think clearly.
There are two main breathing patterns that affect how others respond to us:
– Shallow, high or rapid
– Low, abdominal or natural
As with our ability to read others’ non-verbals, we have an unconscious awareness of how others are breathing. It evolved in ancient times when we needed to be aware of other people’s emotional states for our survival. When we observe someone else, we unconsciously make a mental note of how they are breathing. The breath has four stages:
- the inhale
- short pause
- the exhale
- short pause
How fast you cycle through the four stages determines if you are breathing rapidly or naturally. When you’re breathing rapidly, others often wonder if you are okay. This is perceived as a sign of distress; anger, fear or surprise. It also keeps the fight-or-flight chemicals in a constant state of release. The human body constantly feels as though it is under some kind of threat. The fight-or-flight response is a genetically hard-wired early warning system, designed to alert us to external threats. It not only warns us of real danger but also the mere perception of danger. Since breathing patterns are contagious, take care not to let yourself be affected by another person’s high, shallow or rapid breathing.
Shallow or rapid breathing is an asset when we need to release fight-or-flight survival chemicals for our safety, and avoid fully experiencing traumatic emotions all at one time. Research indicates that shallow or rapid breathing can keep us from fully experiencing emotions. Our breathing patterns and emotions are intertwined. Our emotions can cause us to breathe low and comfortably or shallow and rapid. Conversely, our breathing pattern can change our emotional state.
Do a little experiment.
Quickly sniff (short rapid inhales through the nose) ten times. What are you feeling right now?
Most people feel a twinge of anxiety or anxiousness. That is the beginning of the fight-or-flight response.
Monitor your breathing when you are around highly-charged or emotional individuals to make sure your breathing is sending a message of being safe, confident and comfortable.
Sarah Anand Anma provides a proven step-by-step system for optimum relationships. She helps frustrated singles figure out what they want and how to get it. also guides loving and committed couples to create and grow the love life beyond their wildest dreams. To get your complimentary Love Activation Session, visit http://www.artofrelationship.