In my last post, I introduced you to the 3M approach to feelings and discussed the first M: Management. In this post, I will talk about the second and third M and conclude with how you can apply the 3M approach to the emotions of another person.
The second M ==> Mindfulness
When you are mindful, you are present in, and aware of, the moment.
While we experience an emotion in the moment, our perceptions of the situation we are facing may be impacted by extraneous information. As these perceptions elicit our feelings, “irrelevant” information can lead to misunderstandings and misperceptions.
This irrelevant information can involve:
- any experiences we have had in the past which are similar to, but not the same as, our current situation,
- our tendency to project ourselves into some unwanted future, or
- our tendency to overreact for a number of reasons.
When we talk about our “buttons” being pushed or “jumping to conclusions”, we are referring to these three sources of misinformaiton.
- getting anxious (a future based emotion) because we didn’t do well in a previous interview and we react “as if” our next interview will turn out the same way
- getting angry (a present based emotion) because we misinterpret the actions of another as mistreatment without getting all the facts
- becoming jealous because our spouse seems to be giving attention to someone else without really understanding what is going on
Mindfulness says that you should stay in the moment and fully understand what is actually taking place before you “interpret”, “judge”, “draw conclusions about”, or take action concerning the perceived threat your feelings are telling you exists.
When you are mindful, you ask questions about what is going on, you gain the information you need to decide what actions you will take, and you reserve to yourself the option of choosing what you will do.
The third M ==> Mastery
The anger mastery cycle, which applies to all emotions including anger, can be downloaded from this website and involves the third M or Mastery of the feeling. Mastering an emotion picks up where Managing one’s emotion ends. Once you have lowered your arousal, you can remain mindful, or in the moment, and assess or validate the threat you perceive exists.
The process of assessment involves:
- gathering information about what is happening by asking questions,
- learning about the process and intent of the other person with whom you are interacting, and
- evaluating your own perceptions.
Assessment sets you up to make a decision about how valid your emotion is and how you want to respond to what is happening.
If the perceived threat is genuine, mastering your emotion dictates that you use all the energy the emotion provides to develop and execute a plan to eliminate the threat.
If the perceived threat is not genuine but is due to a misperception of what is happening, mastering the emotion dictates that you change the thoughts which are giving rise to the feeling and, by so doing, change the feeling or let the feeling diminish and go away by ignoring it.
The same three M’s can also be applied when you are dealing with someone else who is directing their emotions at you. The process involves lowering your own arousal (managing) so that you don’t react and escalate the interaction, (This can also result in the other person “powering down” somewhat.), remaining mindful so that you gather information about how the other person perceives you as a threat (mindfulness), and mastering their emotions by assessing how they see what is going on and responding to their perceptions (if they are open to this) by acknowledging or validating their emotion, apologizing (if appropriate), and suggesting a resolution.
I have a whole chapter on dealing with someone who is angry with you in my book Beyond Anger Management: Master Your Anger as a Strategic Tool.
I have covered the entire 3M process and I welcome your comments.