We are almost always upset, or about to be.

Do you ever wonder why you and everyone else is upset so much? Most of us are.

I know that all I need to do is get in my car…inevitably someone will be driving under the speed limit, which I find very annoying, and I will talk to them aloud—which, by the way, is wholly ineffective. They still drive slowly. And I am still upset.

That is a simple example which you likely can I identify with. But let’s talk about upsets that are more impactful- upsets in our families and in our workplaces.  When I speak about upsets, I am speaking about everything from being annoyed to hurt and tearful to outright angry.

First, it is important to realize that being upset is normal. What happens at a simple neurological level is that your brain is reminded of some time in your past and experiences being threatened.  Then, it sends a neurochemical cocktail of threat into your nervous system, and you are in the fight, flight, freeze or appease response. Your biology is upset, and your emotional reactions are in line with that biological response.

It happens whenever you don’t get what you want or you get something you don’t want. Why does it happen in response to not getting what you want? Simplified- it happens because your brain feels the threat from your childhood. You may not remember it, but your brain does. Haven’t you had the thought- why am I so upset over this—when it is not as big of a deal but it feels like a big deal? Now, you know why!

So, we are upset frequently. The question is how can we calm it down? I was reading an article from Tricia Brouk, “Brutal Doesn’t Mean Savage,” where she talks about creating a safe space. (That was the inspiration for this post.) We have to actually take action to interrupt the already existing experience of being upset waiting to happen. Her thinking around creating a safe space- which she does when she directs actors and when she trains speakers- can be applied to life and our businesses all the time.

A few things she said that are key:

  • “I believe ultimate success and growth comes from creating, working and living in a space that’s safe, while also being deeply compassionate and brutally strong.”
  • “Brutal does not have to be defined as savage. It can also mean ferocious and direct, straightforward and blunt.”
  • “Creating a safe space also starts with being able to communicate clearly.”
  • “Communicate what you want and need clearly, while being totally direct. And collaborate.”
  • “When a space is free from fear, ego, the possibility of sexual abuse or abuse of power, human potential increases exponentially.”

I think that when we are each aware of our predilection to being upset and then, on purpose, create a safe space for ourselves and each other, just like Tricia suggests in her article it makes a huge difference for us and one another. What else can you do to create a safe space? Think about it and share with me.