Increase the gap & identify the trigger
That is the gap between the emotion(s) happening and the action you take. The bigger the gap, the better your choices as your actions are based on a mix of emotion and cognition. This therefore means your choices and actions are more informed and more likely to get you the sort of outcome you desire.
The trigger is important as it gives you the understanding of what called the emotion forth and so gives you more chance to manage it more effectively in the future.
The challenge with both of these parts is that you feel the emotion for longer. You go back and rerun or revisit what happened so that you can specify the trigger. You rerun the emotional episode again and again and each time you do, the emotion returns.
It creates the same physiological changes (unique to each emotion):
Variation in temperature of your arms or legs
Shutting off of your gastrointestinal tract.
Variation in heart rate.
Sweating more or less.
Parts of your brain firing.
Until you then get to an answer and/or you take action, the emotion will keep returning as you reflect on it.
What does that mean?
It is draining.
Imagine having an experience where before you act you have caught that you are angry. You stop yourself before sending that emotionally charged reply to the email and that is a good thing. If it ended there, that may be better. If you are going to identify and manage the trigger, that needs more work. Lots more work.
What exactly was it? How angry am I? Where did I feel it first? What was the duration? When did it subside? How can I use that to help me in the future?
In the answer to each question the same emotion is being triggered. Emotions are tiring, they use a lot of physiological resources then you add all the cognitive ones on too, you are a busy bee.
The gap is great.
Minding it will help you far more than it hinders.
That doesn’t mean it is easy…
How well do you mind your gap?