When we are involved in a relational situation that arouses the negative emotions of others, our own negative emotions are never far away. We must do something!
Understand the Other’s State
We must first put ourselves in the emotional perspective of another person, even if their negative emotions are targeted against ourselves. If you lose this perspective, you automatically enter the destructive cycle of negative emotions. What can you make out of the other person? Interpret how the event came to be!
At the same time, we must not forget that even if the other person has arguments, they are not necessarily rational or constructive – which is why it is usually unnecessary to reply to them rationally.
The keyword, rather, is empathy. This is not necessarily the time to comment on the situation, try to analyze, or to refer to past events. All these interventions might be interpreted as attacks that are personal, or signs of rejection.
During this step, we should concentrate on calming the emotions of the other person through openness and understanding. Rational discussion can, and will, come later.
Identify the Source of Negative Emotions
To be effective, one must then identify the source of the emotions that the other person feels. At the same time, we must consider the possibility that the source of emotions may change rapidly.
We must act gently. If the source of the emotions of the other is external and does not imply you its blame, support will be easier. This will be especially empathetic.
In contrast, if it seems that you yourself are the source of the other person’s negative emotions, there are many opportunities for our own emotions to become stretched. In this case, we must first act on ourselves by trying to control our own negativity for the better.
A good way is to remind ourselves never to get into the cycle of negative emotions, by twisting the other person’s words around, for example (especially if these words are full of aggression). The use of questioning allows us to interpret ourselves against the situation. Because without such control over ourselves first, we can’t do anything to improve the situation. This last step is probably the most difficult, but the most important to achieve.
It requires not only developing a conscience, but also considerable autonomy. For example, we can remember the disastrous consequences of emotions if we let them go. Thus we must help ourselves to be able to help each other.
In conclusion, even if the act of helping others to break the cycle of negative emotions seem very (some will risk “too”) altruistic, that help will be valuable primarily for ourselves, because we thus avoid much further suffering ourselves.