Have you even said or done you later regretted because you didn't manage yourself well? I think we have all been there. Before we can lead others well, we must learn how to manage ourselves. Once we have enhanced our self-awareness (talked about in last week’s post), we are in a better position to regulate our emotions as we are aware of our strengths, weaknesses, sources of potential biases, and triggers.
Have you ever heard of an amygdala highjack? I don’t profess to be any kind of brain specialist, but I can give you a general idea of what it is. The amygdala is part of the limbic system, a set of brain structures that help regulate our behavioral and emotional responses. It is probably best known for its role in the fight or flight response that was instilled in us in ancient times to keep us safe. There isn’t as much danger of us being attacked by lions, tigers, and bears these days, but who knows after the last few years!
An amygdala hijack can happen when strong emotions, such as anger, fear, or even extreme excitement, make it difficult or impossible to think straight. As you can imagine, this mechanism can cause us to act in ways that we later regret. I’m sure you can think of a few times when you lost it and went into amygdala hijack mode, and it probably didn’t turn out well.
COPE to Manage Yourself
How can we manage our emotions so that we can respond thoughtfully rather than react in the moment? You’re in luck! I have some tips for you. Acronym alert – I like them and there are a few ahead!
To manage yourself, COPE
C – Catch yourself
When you start to feel stressed or upset, catch yourself and move on to O!
O – Observe what is happening in your body and your mind.
Become familiar with what happens in your body when you are stressed or upset. Does your heart rate increase? Does your stomach tighten? Do you feel tension in your chest and shoulders? When you notice yourself having a strong emotional reaction, identify what you feel (name it) to kick start the rational side of your brain and then tame it.
P – Practice the pause
Step away and do some breathing, take a walk, drink some water, etc. Come back to deal with the situation when you are in a calmer state. It’s seldom going to turn out well when you deal with emotional situations in the heat of the moment.
E – Evolve
Think about what you want to happen and what you need to do to achieve the result you want.
Good lifestyle habits can aid in managing your stress with the added benefit of better managing yourself and your emotions. You know what to do! But just in case, here is another acronym to help!
Take your MEDS
7 Habits of High Retention Managers
This is one of the 7 habits in my upcoming book! If you liked this post, stay tuned for more information.