September 17, 2018
Below is a lesson from Forbes on emotional control, as well as our key learning.
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Lessons In Emotional Control We Can Learn From the Women’s U.S. Open Final
by Renita Kalhorn
The 2018 women’s U.S. Open final had the potential to showcase incredible tennis. Serena Williams was making a bid to tie Margaret Court’s record for 24 Grand Slam titles. Naomi Osaka, 16 years her junior, was vying to be the first Grand Slam winner from Japan.
Instead, we saw a lot of drama, controversy and a stark example of how focusing on who’s right or wrong can prevent us from getting what we really want.
Here’s what happened: Over the course of the match, umpire Carlos Ramos issued a warning to Serena for coaching from the stands, a point penalty for destroying her racket on the court, and a game penalty after Serena accused Carlos of cheating –all violations of the grand slam code of conduct. Serena went on to lose the match.
In no way am I here to judge or criticize either party. I have the utmost admiration for Serena as an athlete and I can only imagine how agonizing it was to be down a set and then penalized for something your coach did that you had no control over or benefit from. Carlos, on the other hand, no doubt wanted to maintain his reputation for “firm but fair” observance of the rules.
So, what are the lessons we can apply in our own lives?
First, remember that our brain’s top priority is survival. We’ve been groomed by evolution to protect ourselves whenever we sense a threat, even if it’s just in our social (interpersonal) environment: In this case, relating to status and fairness in how rules or standards are applied.
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- Our brain’s top priority is survival. Evolution has groomed us to protect ourselves whenever there is a threat, even if it’s just in our social environment.
- Even when there is no physical threat to survival, the amygdala, or the emotional part of our brain, triggers the “fight-or-flight” reaction.
- “Amygdala hyjack” (Daniel Goleman) – our attention becomes narrowly focused on the perceived threat. It’s hard for us to consider other options or weigh other perspectives.
- 3 mental training techniques that can help us avoid losing our “cool” and what we really want:
- Zoom out – When our brain perceives a threat it tunes everything else out. Say to yourself: Isn’t it interesting that I’m having this reaction, that I’m letting this get to me? This allows you to create some distance, allowing you to have some objectivity, which allows you to override the emotional reaction and shift back to rational thinking.
- Remember the 90-second rule – 90 seconds is how long it takes for the survival hormone rush to flush out of your system. Our brain can interpret shallow breathing (such as when we are upset, angry, insulted) as a threat. Therefore, take a deep breath, hold back from saying or doing anything during this time. This reassures your brain that there is no threat to survival.
- Run a mental rehearsal – If you know that certain situations trigger your emotions, prepare with mental rehearsals. Imagine yourself in these situations, then rehearse what you will say (to yourself and others) and how you will regain control.
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