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Become an Observer

In a recent podcast interview conversation I had, we spoke about the importance of being able to remove yourself from a situation emotionally and observe it from sidelines to allow yourself to be more objective in how you handle it – especially with those situations involving conflict with another person. The ability to be curious about human behavior rather than wrapped up in it is an important skill to have and will help you circumvent the way our amygdalas can hijack us (in other words how to keep our primitive lizard brain from taking over in our interactions with others.)

How can you be more of an observer of life, rather than sitting in that place where things are happening to you, triggering you, and you find yourself in complete reaction mode? For example, let’s say you have a complicated relationship with someone at work. It’s been building up for a while now, so you tend to get triggered very quickly when in a conversation with them. Just being in their presence can get you riled up. How can you remove the emotion from the situation so that you can rationally engage with this individual? Let’s throw in a little Neural Linguistic Programming (or NLP) to help you become more of an observer of life.

To visualize this strategy, think of a tumultuous relationship you have with someone else. Perhaps it is someone at work, someone at home, maybe a family member you don’t live with, or a professor or teacher or classmate if you’re in school. The first step in this NLP strategy is to run through the last interaction you had with this individual from your point-of-view. Take a few minutes to run through the scenario as it happened in your head.

The next step is to run through the same interaction from the other individual’s point-of-view. Take a few minutes to do this, trying your best to see the interaction from their point-of-view without imposing your perspective on the situation. Finally, watch the interaction as it unfolded as if you were a third party observing two individuals interact (or like you were watching it on TV or YouTube).

By going through this process, you are training your brain to remove yourself from over-reacting emotionally, instead of being able to step back and look at an interaction with another person in a more rational way. See, when we allow ourselves to get triggered, we take away our ability to see the big picture of the interaction, thus significantly limiting our ability to communicate with the other person effectively. The more you utilize the strategy, the more trained your brain will become, and you’ll be able to do this in the moment. Also, the more you engage in meditation or some other type of mindfulness practice, the more you will be able to be more rational in the moment to address potentially emotional minefields in your interactions with others. I highly recommend you take the time to go through this strategy right now and see the difference it makes.

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