Gap of the Day: stopping reactivity at work

So many of us have been in those situations where we’re in a meeting and someone says something triggering. Maybe we even have some kind of history with them, and right away you can feel yourself getting riled up.

In our Emotional Rescue Courses, particularly in our work in organizations, we encourage people to select a go-to anchor in their body. For example, I might direct my attention to the soles of my feet. Or I might focus on my sitting bones and the feeling of gravity as I sit in my chair. We have one client who likes to touch the fabric of her clothes. 

Your physical anchor can be anything that helps you to come back into awareness of your senses. And our body is so useful for that, because it’s always in the present moment. So when you have a heated, or charged, situation at work, if you’re ready with your go-to reference point in your body, an anchor, then in that moment when you’re triggered, you can invite your attention, or direct your attention, to open up to that particular anchor. 

Like many other organizations, our team has been conducting teaching sessions on Zoom these days, and so sometimes we even jokingly refer to this anchor as our “Zoom anchor.” 

And the important thing is to get familiar with your anchor at times when you’re not triggered. For example, at the beginning of a meeting, or at end of the meeting, you can form an intention to connect with that anchor –– such as your feet or your sitting bones, or the feeling of your clothing on your skin, or whatever it is for you. And by doing this regularly, you build up repetitions of that new habit in your muscle memory. 

Just like a professional athlete, you practice your moves again and again before a big game, so that when the heat is on, in the clutch, you’ll automatically remember to do those moves. If you haven’t put that muscle memory into your body in advance, then it’s a bit too much to expect yourself to remember your anchor in an emotionally charged moment. So I recommend that you try to find some routine. At the beginning or end of the meeting, for example, you can check in with that anchor, so that when that charged moment happens, you remember it, and it’s almost automatic. 

This quick anchor is related to what we teach in the Emotional Rescue Method. The first Step of the Method is called Mindful Gap. And the reason it’s so helpful is that it creates space, it slows things down a little and allows us to work with the energy of the emotion. Then, instead of reacting from our habitual tendencies, we can choose, from within the space of Mindful Gap, a response that is more intentional and more beneficial for everyone involved. So the key is to connect with your body in some way. Your body’s always there for you. You can use your body or your breath as an anchor to really settle yourself before you proceed to say or do anything.

I have found this approach to be extremely helpful, and I know others have found it useful as well. Try it out, and see what you think! Let us know how it goes.

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