How many times have you had to deal with the negativity of others this week? Today?

We  know that anger and stress are all around us from the frustrated car  driver waiting for the pedestrian to cross the road to the mom dealing with toddler tantrums. Coping with all this stresses us out and becomes contagious as it manifests itself in our own hostility towards the people in our lives’ and so the cycle continues.

There is this  idea that we have to absorb the all moodiness and aggression of those  around us. And it’s just not true. We don’t have to take into our bodies  this negativity; there are  things we can do, just as with anything that  is bad for  us.

I gave up salt twenty years ago, a fact which is treated with incredulity by some.

“I bet you put it on baked potatoes” a friend remarked to me recently.
Nope.
“Fried chicken?”
No.
“French fries?’
Absolutely not.

Most Americans consume a good teaspoon and a half of sodium a day, more than double what our bodies need. It  leads to rises in blood  pressure and with that,  risks of heart attacks and strokes which kill over 800,000 Americans a  year.

Like anger, salt is  everywhere.

(We add salt to our meals via our trusty dinnertable  saltshaker, there is vast amounts of salt in packaged food (six pretzel  sticks will give you half your daily ration) and in restaurants, cooks  are used to grabbing fistfuls of the stuff to give a dish extra zing.  Everyday, most of us unconsciously absorb salt, damaging our bodies and  setting ourselves up for ill-health.  So I gave up salt.)

By  getting conscious about the ill-effects of salt, getting conscious about  the presence of salt in my daily life, then utilizing some strategies to avoid it, I was able to cut down on the excess that causes the  damage.

The same is true for the negative affects of the people  around us. Every day in the morning, I put on my “invisible emotional  raincoat.” I look in the mirror, imagine myself putting it on, check it  for fit and mentally put it there. As I do this, I am consciously  protecting my emotions. I am putting an imaginary  barrier between my  own and those of other people.

As I go through my day and  someone is rude or obnoxious, I remember I have on my coat. It acts as a  shield around my body with which I can deflect the  frustration, anger, grumpiness of those I come into contact  with. I still listen and reciprocate but avoid taking on the the chaotic effects of their moods, remaining still and balanced within myself and  ready to go on with my day.  The anger becomes just another event  neither loaded good or bad.

What can you do to protect yourself  from negativity as you go through today? Why don’t you try this  technique and see how it works for you. And while you do that, I’ll work on giving up chocolate. 🙂

Anabel Jensen

President of Six Seconds and professor of education, Anabel Jensen, Ph.D., is a master teacher and a pioneer in emotional intelligence education. A two-time Federal Blue Ribbon winner for excellence in education, she was Executive Director of the Nueva School from 1983 to 1997 where she helped develop the Self-Science curriculum featured in Daniel Goleman’s 1995 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence.

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