Emotional Detox: Cleansing Intolerance through Emotional Connection
I remember getting a lousy night’s sleep in a hotel room. The next day, I was so sleep deprived I felt like barking at the hotel staff, blaming them for putting me in a room next to the elevator. As I approached the desk in my workout gear, the attendant said with a smile, “You got up early to work out, give me a high five.” The moment I slapped his hand the tension in my face started to dissipate raising my awareness just enough to recognize it wasn’t entirely the hotel's fault. I could have requested a room change.
Emotional connection is a state of being in tune with another person. In that moment you and the other person are sharing a space of connection. On the other hand, disconnection happens when you insist or resist connecting with someone on a more personal (human) level. Instead you might see them as an object a means to an end. For example, you might think to yourself, I need to speak to this person so I can get what I want.
The challenge is people typically sniff these kind of intentions out. When our intentions are solely based on “getting” rather than connecting our actions are processed by our brains (and theirs) as reactions. Reactions create an environment of defensiveness. In this type of atmosphere people are less likely to be open, patient, respectful, understanding and tolerant. Instead they resort to quick actions by either saying something or behaving in a way which only makes matters worse.
Emotional connection happens when you feel safe. In order to feel safe non-defensiveness must be present. In the case of the hotel attendant he created a space of non-defensiveness through his light hearted, playful approach. Below are five additional ways to foster tolerance through emotional connection.
- Check In With Yourself. Before approaching another person notice if you are breathing. If you are not breathing (inhaling and exhaling) or your breathing is shallow, high in the chest, you my friend, are in a state of reactivity. Rub your hands together vigorously for thirty seconds then place one hand on your heart while breathing in and out through your nose to bring back emotional connection.
- Put your phone out of reach. Let’s face it, technology is distracting. The more distracted you are the less room for emotional connection. Research shows just the presence of a cell phone, particularly during a meal reduces eye contact and communication.
- Soften Your Gaze. Eye contact increases emotional flow whereas, turning your head or looking around leaves little space for connection. If your eyes are wide open (pissed off) take a moment to soften your gaze similar to the way you would watch a candle burning or the sun setting. This allows you to stimulate emotional flow.
- Be Open to All Possibilities. When you are in a state of disconnection it is likely you are limiting your choices and possibilities. Sure you might think you have a couple of choices (to complain or not complain) however, when you are in a state of connection choices tend to amplify. For example, you can also choose to allow yourself to be energized or depleted by a situation.
- Release Judgements. When you judge someone, for example you might label them as doing a good or bad job you are limiting your ability to see their strengths. Acknowledging the strengths in others increases connection. In the case of the hotel example, after the high five the attendant spent quite a bit of time showing me how to navigate directions to the local airport even though he had a line of people behind me.