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  • Writer's pictureAndi


Clients often ask me how to “fix” unwanted behavior from a child, spouse, coworker, or boss. Spoiler alert… it’s virtually impossible to change someone else unless they really want to make the change themselves.

The only change we can make is to consciously decide how we want to show up for ourselves. This means we can show up in anger, reactivity, frustration or remain calm and positive. If we can be consistent in showing up for ourselves in a calm and positive way, this allows us to see things more clearly without rolling our emotions into other areas of our life. Once we allow the negativity to seep in, it consumes our thoughts and our resilience plummets.

Whether at work or at home, it is common to absorb the emotion of the one person who is upset and angry even if everyone else is happy. We can be surrounded by a 100 people at a beautiful celebration and if one person is visibly upset, this is where our focus goes. It’s human nature to cling onto emotions that don’t serve us, and it’s especially hard when the person carrying the unwanted emotion is close to us.

Have you noticed that it’s easier to help a friend than it is to take our own advice? This is because we are not personally attached to the outcome even though we deeply care for our friend. When I absorb a negative emotion, my thoughts become chaotic, I get anxious, and I am useless. Once our resilience is lowered it’s easier to get triggered, and words unconsciously start flying which often ends up in shame and regret.

Let’s visualize how this ripple effect works so we can spot it and avoid being sucked in. Imagine swimming in a luxurious pool surrounded by ocean and palm trees… a stone gets dropped in which is filled with anger and negative energy. That ripple is working its way to you, what do you do? The water can surround you permeating the negative energy into your body, you can run out of the pool and keep going until the ripple smooths out or take a deep breath and dunk under the water allowing the ripple to dissipate above your head (this means taking a timeout in another room or telling the other person you need space to process your emotions).

There are times when my husband asks if I am cranky, and I am unaware that I am sending off negative energy. It usually catches me by surprise, and I reassure him that I am fine. I always take a moment to take stock of what’s going on that is causing me to exude this vibe. Sometimes I am simply in deep in thought and quieter than usual. I am glad he shares this communication with me otherwise he might respond with defensive energy causing me to project that he is cranky, and then I might react by matching his mood. Without communication the cycle might go round and round and there was nothing there in the first place.

For parents: When our children/partners walk into the house shouting about something, it’s not unusual to immediately absorb that energy and shout back. Think of that ripple and take a deep breath, dunk below the surface and decide how you want to show up in that moment. Just taking the deep breath and holding it for a few seconds before exhaling will calm your nervous system. Moving forward, welcome these moments to use as practice and see what happens when you catch yourself. I remember saying to my children that it was hard for me to hear them properly when they were shouting, and it would be easier if they could tell me what happened in softer tones to help me understand. Before knowing any breathing techniques, I would naturally say “take a deep breath and tell me again”.

When they are toddlers it’s important to have the expectation that they will be irrational, but we can still role model staying calm by hugging them and letting them know we see their “big feelings”. When we yell back, children internalize our yelling very differently and it can stay with them into adulthood. When we can consistently catch ourselves and remain calm, it will create a positive ripple effect on the rest of the family. The change you are looking for will happen over time. The main goal is to diffuse the unwanted energy and not join in the spiral.

Take a few moments to review if there is a pattern that creates unwanted energy so you can be more prepared the next time. It’s impossible to be conscious 100% of the time so when you falter, you can take a Do Over for the next outburst. Acknowledging that you need a do over is a sign that you are growing in your consciousness.

My blogs provide great tools but if the work is not done to dig below life’s ripples, it’s likely the unwanted patterns will repeat. If this is happening, I am here to guide you with a deeper and personalized Do Over.


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