Say you had a major fight with your partner just as you were walking out the door on your way to work. You drive to your office rehearsing all the things you should have said, feeling the anger grow, and expand. Finally, you arrive at work, collapse into your chair and can feel all that energizing, and self righteous anger deflate, and turn into an uncontrollable emotional flood.
What do you do?
There are things we can do to calm down an upset feeling when at work – have a cry in the bathroom, go for a walk outside, take five minutes to write down our feelings, take a few deep breaths, or call a friend for a quick chat. But sometimes we need a little bit more than that. We need to put the upsetting things away (temporarily) so that we can concentrate on the task in front of us. This is a great imagery technique to help you do just that- park the upset feeling until you can give it your full attention.
The Container Technique
– Visualize a container of your choice. It needs to be large enough to hold all of your upset, sealable, and movable.
– Take three deep belly breaths (imagine your belly is a big ballon that you fill with air), and let out the air slowly.
– Take a couple of minutes to imagine all of the upsetting things going into this container. One by one, stuff them in there. Everything that is getting in the way of you having a calm and enjoyable day. Watch them all go in there, the big things that maybe happened this morning or last night, and even the small annoyances from your drive to work.
– Once you are satisfied that they are all in there, seal the container and imagine yourself putting it away. Lock it up in a file cabinet, drop it off in someone else’s office, take it down to the coffee shop for safe keeping, or email it to me. — Take a few more deep belly breaths, and continue with your day. You may need to repeat this once or twice throughout the day.
Once work is done, and you are able to let your feelings flow more freely, visualize the container again, and take off the seal. Remember that you are in control. You can choose which of the things in there you want to take out first, second, and last. For more guidance on how to deal with upset emotions write to our advice column (with a specific question), or book a session with Tamar.