3 Mental Processes to Consider for Reopening:
Evidence-based studies have shown us a particular area of the brain and it’s connections related to fairness. The actual location isn’t important for the purpose of this article, however knowing that we evolved to have a system for fairness is what’s interesting. Humans evolved to be fair, and to hold fairness in high esteem. Therefore, when we encounter situations that seem unfair, our brains react to create thoughts and emotions related to anger and frustration. As the country starts to reopen, we can see individuals who take social distancing and use of PPE seriously and those who don’t. If we fall into the former category, then look out for anger and it’s supporting thoughts as you go for your walk or return to work.
Being mindful of your emotions will get you ahead of your reactions. Knowing how anger shows up for you, labeling it, and it’s supporting thoughts is a good start. Once you notice the emotion you are miles ahead of most people. Instead of reacting, choose your response. There is a big difference between a reaction to anger and a response. A reaction’s goal is to soothe your emotion, while a response is value based. Ask yourself, “what kind of person do I want to be in the face of anger?” The answer to that may be assertiveness, avoidance, or other responses. The beauty of a response is that you can choose what it will be based on your values.
The act of separating from your thoughts and emotions is what you can use as a technique to respond. Defusion is when you become aware of what you are feeling and what you are thinking. By noticing, labeling, and not reacting to a feeling or a thought you have more control over how you respond. Take for example you notice someone not following social distancing rules, a normal bodily sensation would be anger followed by thoughts of judgement, maybe thoughts of how inconsiderate they are, and how you would like to insult them. But, this time you can notice that you are feeling angry, and you can notice the supporting thoughts. You still haven’t reacted because you are noticing your private experience. Then, you make a value based choice of how you would like to respond. The response can be from a place of compassion, love, and concern vs from a place of anger and fear.
Unconditional Other Acceptance (UOA) is radical acceptance of other people’s behavior. By accepting other’s unconditionally, we free ourselves of the discomfort of frustration and anger. If we choose UOA as a value, we can practice UOA in situations surrounding reopening. Using the techniques above we can live a value based life which includes UOA.