Friday, July 27, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Emotional Maturity

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Emotional Maturity   

We’ve all been in those testy situations.  You know the ones. You’re standing in a long line and the customer service assistant is carrying on an unnecessary conversation.  Or you’re talking with someone to try to get a misunderstanding resolved, but are met with the “it’s-not-my-fault-and-I-really-don’t-care-just-hurry-up-and-get-out-of-my-line-so-I-can-go-to-lunch” attitude.  You’re being spoken to like you’re a child.  Those difficult situations can easily cause one to behave in a way that’s less than desirable, to put it mildly.  And the “you” that you are working towards becoming takes a back seat to an impulse to show that someone what you’re capable of and who you can become.  The next time you find yourself in a situation that challenges your tolerance, try these few suggestions to help you manage your emotions.

Respond rather than react.

I know the two terms are synonymous.  But for the sake of your emotional health, let’s define a reaction as something that is involuntary and not well thought out.  You react with facial expressions or comments that feed more negative energy into the situation.  This only causes an already unpleasant situation to escalate.  Instead of reacting, counter undesirable behavior by modeling what would be more appropriate.  This could include a smile, a pleasant greeting or a compliment to lighten the mood.   Hopefully, this response will cause that other person to be more attentive to their behavior and follow your lead.

Realize that you are only responsible for your own behavior.

No matter what someone else says or does, no matter how offensive, ultimately you are only responsible for you.  Many times in difficult situations we make the other person’s problems our own by meeting them on their level.  And although that can be a useful skill in communicating, it becomes ineffective if you only do so to mimic the ill behavior.  Realize that you don’t have to behave foolishly and seem equally as socially challenged.  Let that person have their limelight.  You rise above it.

Know your triggers.

An awareness of self is your most effective deterrent in a difficult situation.  If you are aware of how your body responds, you can make the appropriate adjustments to manage your emotions and reactions effectively. When your blood gets to boiling, take some deep breaths.  Make positive affirmations.  Hum a happy tune.  Do whatever is reasonably necessary to keep you from being overtaken by negative energy. 


Putting yourself into someone else’s shoes can do wonders.  Take into consideration that the other person could be having a hard time also. You may start to think more of the person and less of the behavior.  It could even be possible that you responding to that person with empathy will help to improve their mood!  What a natural high to be a catalyst for positive change in someone else’s life just by managing how you respond to an unpleasant situation!

The last thing anyone wants to do when pressed for time or after a long day is have to tolerate an ugly attitude or poor customer service.  However, it rings true that if the behavior you are receiving is unacceptable, it is equally unacceptable for you to reciprocate with ill behavior.  By instead taking this opportunity to manage your emotions and model socially acceptable behavior, you have made an unpleasant experience a positive point of reflection for both you and that diamond in the rough.  

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