It’s not every day that we have to wrestle with a great white shark, unless it’s like the day in 2015 when Mick Fanning, our illustrious local world champion surfer (for those that don’t know who Mick Fanning is), had to fight for a miraculous get away. At the time, Mick was locked into a world title battle in the waters of South Africa – but all too quickly, Mick’s priorities changed dramatically.
For Mick on that fateful day, his battle was to control his behaviour whilst being taken over by an onslaught of intense emotions and come out of that life-threatening experience alive.
The emotional intensity that Mick would have experienced in that precise moment is our innate emotional hardwiring and is designed to show up in powerful and extreme situations when we feel threatened.
Sometimes however, it can just be the mere thought or feel of a threat that can send us into an emotionally charged response.
Your brain, and mine, battles our emotional and mental priorities every single day. It may not be a great white shark that is threatening our livelihood, but threats show up daily and our challenge is to deal effectively with our emotions.
Without going into all the drab details of our innate emotional hardwiring, my point is that our emotional charge hits us, at times, long before our reasoning mind kicks into gear.
About 30% of us are able to identify and catch and manage our emotions as they are happening, which means about 70% of us are typically controlled by our emotions. The interpretation means that for most of us we are not skilled in knowing when we are about to lose it or to do or to say something inappropriate.
So there lies the gap.
Mick’s example of a great white shark attack is a threat which most of us will never have to face. It is a very extreme example. But right now, some of us, as a result of these unprecedented times, are feeling similar emotional responses to that of being under attack, fearing for our own safety and that of our family’s and the people we care about.
This is a totally natural reaction during times of such rapid, dramatic and unexpected change, change which will no doubt continue into the foreseeable future.
Remember, about 70% of us are running around on emotional responses, and the rational mind doesn’t turn on until it is too late, often after the damage is done. Therefore, it is the innocent bystanders like family, friends, colleagues and bosses that are often at the brunt of our underdeveloped responsiveness.
Thriving under fire means learning how we can communicate better to ourselves and between our rational and emotional centres of the brain, so we can halt some of our intense emotions and use our behaviour to achieve positive outcomes and save face for ourselves as well as the people around us.
So how do we start to do that?
Follow my page to receive part II of this article when I will discuss the best ways to monitor and control your reactive emotions even in the most challenging situations.
Or feel free to direct message me if you would like to chat through these techniques right away.