Book: Reflections

Reflections - bringing attention to your daily life by Désirée Steinmann

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Reflections of the Week

How not to get stressed by family members, friends and other people in the Xmas time? Part 2 – The neutral zone

2012-12-01 18:05 (comments: 0)

The neutral zone, which we are going to discuss today, will help you not to take things personally.
We saw this yellow line in the pictures last week. Let’s take a closer look at it:

 tl_files/bilder/VIP/VIP Success Mindmap Bild/My business your business - 1.png

In this picture we can see two people standing in their own circles of strength, with the yellow line separating them. This yellow line is the neutral zone. Let me explain its function on the following example:

I’m sure you are familiar with the electrostatic shock which can be created when we touch another person or an object. This happens especially in the winter months when the air is dry and we wear clothes which collect the static, which then gets discharged when we touch somebody. One gets an electrostatic shock.  If we touched metal before touching another person though, the static would be discharged onto the metal instead. The yellow line works like metal. Its role is to neutralize the negative emotional charge resonating from critical words in the neutral zone before the charge can harm us. If you create this neutral zone for yourself, all you will get from a critical or negative statement will be words and your own observations and reflections about the state the other person is in.

So let’s take a look now at how the negative emotions are created in a conversation. We listen with our ears (words and the volume), with our eyes (body language), with our heart (energy / emotions) and with our mind. And this is exactly where the most problems originate from: our mind.
Our mind judges and compares the input, and it has a big ego. The mind constantly tells stories. You know this as a “chatterbox” in your head; the multiple voices which ceaselessly offer comments and critical opinions on everything.

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When your partner says for example: “I need more time for myself”, the chatterbox will immediately chirp in with some story or “explanation” which is bound to cause a reaction in you.  The statement of your partner’s will lead to some thoughts, these thoughts in turn will create emotions and these will cause a reaction. It looks like this:

 

 

Statement -> Thought + Emotion  =  Reaction

                                        /

                                     Story

 

 

If you happen to be a person who understands the need for personal quality time, or if you don’t overanalyze what your partner has just said, then things are simple. You hear your partner’s statement, understand their need and you adjust accordingly. However, if you feel neglected, disrespected or rejected, this kind of statement will trigger an explosion of thoughts and stories in your head. These thoughts will lead to strong emotions and as a result, you will not be able to react in a relaxed and balanced way.
Trouble is, this kind of “chatterbox interference” is part of our “autopilot” and is constantly present on both sides of a conversation. Both partners listen and develop their own stories from the thoughts and emotions at the same time.

 

The neutral zone (the yellow line) helps to “discharge” what is said. When this zone is “on”, the words of my partner get discharged and neutralized before they can hit me directly and become my problem. This zone helps me to recognize what is “my business” and “your business”.

 tl_files/bilder/VIP/VIP Success Mindmap Bild/My business your business 4.png

What has been really said in our example? “I need more time for myself”. When analyzed in an unbiased way, i.e. without evaluation, it is just a statement which expresses a need. This unbiased analysis helps us to separate the emotions of our partner from his/her words and to leave them in our partner’s circle.

My thoughts and my emotions related to this statement stay on my side of the yellow zone. They belong to me and me alone, and have nothing to do with my partner. And this is good news, because my thoughts and emotions are under my control which means, that I can decide what I think, what I feel and how I choose to react.

If the neutral zone works well, I can decide to do something alone while my partner is taking more time for himself/herself, and then I can go ahead and do it. This way, when we see each other after this break, we are both in a better mood and in a better form.

If ‘m not very happy with this wish, I can say: “I hardly ever see you and I have a problem with your taking more time for yourself. Can we find a compromise so that we are both satisfied?”

If the neutral zone isn’t working well or is missing, the ownership and responsibilities can become unclear and this can lead to frustration, expectations, pressure and “victim-offender” behavior. If there is no neutral zone, we’ll find ourselves in the circle of influence of the partner, where we are powerless.

This concept of “not taking things personally” has helped me change and improve my life and my relationships with other people. It’s difficult to apply at the beginning, but once it kicks in, you will not want to come back to the old habits.

I would like to hear from you about your success stories involving the neutral zone. Please share them in my blog and let’s find more constructive examples to illustrate how useful this zone is!

 

Quotes:

 

It makes sense to do anything that helps me feel better, feel happier and makes me laugh more – as long as it doesn’t bring harm to others.

Eugen Roth

 

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent

Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.

William James

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