Processing Emotional Triggers in Healthy Ways
Conflict is a given at work. Most of us must interact with a wide range of people who have personalities that are very different from ours. They think differently, process differently and operate from different beliefs. To complicate matters, the environment we work in is often characterized by stress and high demands that can encourage people to look out for their own self-interest.
Anger and other negative emotions that arise during times of conflict are often triggered by experiences from our past – some we may not even be aware are still influencing us. In chapter 3 of the book of Esther, Haman and Mordecai reacted not just to each other, but to a long history of hate and violence between their forefathers.
Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin.” Anger and frustration are normal human emotions. It’s not a sin to feel the emotion. It IS sin to allow ourselves to react to conflict based on those emotions, and it will hurt us. One speaker put it this way: “Anger (or defensiveness, frustration, etc.) is like taking poison and hoping someone else is going to die.” Those negative, fear-based emotions you dwell on are poison – to relationships and to you.
So what should you do when those triggers are pushed? When Mordecai learned about Haman’s edict to annihilate all the Jews, he mourned in ashes and sackcloth before God. (Esther 4:1) The best way to process any negative emotion is to bring it before God. Acknowledge how you feel through prayer, and ask God to work in your heart and reveal truth so you can process through it in a healthy way.
People are watching. How you handle conflict matters and has an influence on the people around you.
Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times I have been angry at my coworkers. Give me the strength to pause when I get upset with a coworker and remember to bring it before You. Grant me the wisdom to handle these situations in ways that bring about the highest good for all concerned so that I can be a light in dark situations and draw more people to You. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Read more about the role of emotional intelligence in healthy decision making .