Can You Stay Calm When the Other Person Is Venting? Try Detached Involvement
My husband was going to drop our daughter off to meet a friend at the fair. But when they got there, he quickly learned that they hadn’t discussed any of the details of where they would meet. After wandering around in the heat and wasting time for over an hour, they finally found her. Apparently, the friend had left her cell phone in the car.
I couldn’t blame him for feeling frustrated and wanting to vent. I would have been upset, too. As he shared his irritation with me, I noticed I was also starting to feel frustrated. I was getting sucked into the drama! It was a great opportunity for me to remember to practice “detached involvement.”
Detached involvement means you’re both a participant and an observer of your life at the same time. For example, you remain emotionally connected and engaged with someone who is feeling stressed without taking on those emotions and becoming part of the drama as well. It’s definitely a learned skill!
There are two key steps I’ve found that make detached involvement easier and that is learning to pause and notice our thoughts and feelings. When my husband was venting, I was able to pause and observe my rising frustration. I now had the opportunity to choose; Was getting upset with him helpful or were these negative feelings pointless and only bringing me down? I decided to calmly listen and validate his feelings while remaining neutral or detached with my emotions.
Here are three opportunities where you can pause and notice how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking:
- Pause a movie at a suspenseful or emotional scene
- Read social media posts that create an emotional reaction for you
- Watch the news
Try practicing on this easy stuff. Then see if you can pause and notice drama in your day while staying emotionally detached. It doesn’t mean you don’t care; it just means you can stay calm while deciding on the best response.