What happens when we drive along the country road and we find ourselves in thick fog ? The healthiest decision is to step on the brakes. In this way we slow down and can see the road and possible obstacles in good time. How we act in such a situation is essential to our survival. And we can actually use the same technology if we want to improve our social skills.
We’ve all found ourselves in an embarrassing situation at one point or another. We have all received unexpected criticism at one point. Or we got caught up in a conflict that we didn’t want to be a part of. The good news is that we can use what we will call the “fogging technique”. If we do that, we can emerge from all these situations unscathed.
“Before you react, slow down, take a deep breath, smile, and respond with compassion.”
The importance of giving us time to react
The fogging technique tells us to stop. In addition to slowing down the emotions that we feel and slowly letting them work. Otherwise they urge us to react impulsively if something does not go according to plan. Let us assume that someone criticizes us severely. Does that make us angry? Perhaps we are tempted to react in ways that we will later regret.
Humiliating, contradicting, or otherwise uncomfortable situations can create something within us that we think we simply cannot control. Something that wants to protect us in situations where we recognize an attack. Or in those in which someone challenges us. Thoughts about not being valued, judged, humiliated, or marginalized elicit a response based on irritability and similar emotions.
Well, afterwards we pull our hair out because our emotions have provoked impulsive action. Today we would have done things differently. But what happens when we stop letting emotions take full control of our actions?
With the fogging technique we become aware of how important it is to slow down. At least until we can see the situation more clearly, until the fog clears up a bit. It also helps us reflect on our emotions. When we do that, we can process their energy and message in a beneficial way. Accordingly, our social skills improve. In addition, we no longer have to constantly apologize for what we did or said.
“Before you act, listen. Before you react, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you give up, try it. “
We don’t have to react immediately
There is a particularly deceptive temptation. There is a temptation to respond immediately to what caught us off guard. This could be a conflict or criticism, for example. Often we don’t give ourselves any time and don’t use the fogging technique. It is as if something inside of us were shouting: “You cannot wait!” We listen to this voice and speak, argue, contradict or justify ourselves.
In today’s world, most of these unpleasant surprises await in a social context. They are not immediate life or death threats. It is very unlikely that we will encounter a lion while walking down the street. Such a situation would really require a quick response on our part. But we usually have enough time to let the emotional cloud dissolve. Then and only then can we give an appropriate answer, one that does not harm us in the long term.
The fogging technique: an example
Suppose a close friend accuses us of spending too little time with them, perhaps because of work or other commitments. If we use the fogging technique, it won’t cause an argument. We then do not respond quickly, in a noticeably annoyed and negative tone, that he is not always there for us. That would probably be the instinctive, emotional response. But with the fog technology we slow down our impulses when our friend accuses us of this. Then we could say to him, for example, “I understand that you are upset because you have the feeling that I am not there for you when you need me.” We are not saying that we agree with him. Yet we are sending a message of understanding to our friend.
This in turn gives us the time to think about the situation and only talk about the problem when no one is angry or annoyed anymore. In this way we can make our friend understand that not always spending time together is not the same as not being there for one another. And that it is an important part of our life, even if we have a job and many other obligations.
“Choose your thoughts instead of simply reacting to your emotions.”
As we have seen, the fogging technique is a strategy that we should all use if we want to improve our social skills. Try it out and see how effective it is. See how well she is helping you connect with others in healthier ways. And finally, how it enables you to process your emotions better.