1.3 – Understanding and managing our reactions – the Safe to be Oneself approach

Certain stimuli generate immediate emotional reactions – often before we have had the opportunity to consider whether the reaction is appropriate or to control it. For example, continuous interruptions at work might generate a sense of anger and frustration at not being able to get on with the task at hand. In turn, this may lead you to react impulsively in a less than considerate way to someone who stops to ask your advice.

By learning to be more aware of your emotions, you may be able to control that immediate reaction. Better communication between the ‘emotional’ and ‘rational’ parts of your brain can be learned and practiced, and the Safe to be Oneself (SAFE TBO) approach offers a useful tool in understanding how to intervene in the steps between stimulus and response (Maddox, 2014).

Consider the following example, based on someone with low self-esteem:

It’s clear from the sequence of events outlined above that underlying attitudes and beliefs about ourselves exert a strong influence on how we react to others. Negative experiences in childhood, for example, may have lowered our self-regard and can shape or distort the way we interpret the behaviour of others towards us, perhaps leading to exaggerated or inappropriate reactions.

EI provides a framework that enables us to become more aware of our emotions and behaviours, to identify the root causes within our own attitudes and beliefs, and to manage them more effectively. It also increases our sensitivity to feelings and reactions in others, helping us to understand and empathise, and to build stronger relationships.


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