You’ve heard the saying, ” Try to just put yourself in their shoes,” well this strategy that I am about to teach you very similar to that, but also takes it a few more steps further and is way more effective than imaging how someone else may feel. Let me show you what I mean.
First let’s prime your mind.
I want you to picture yourself sitting in the front seat of a roller coaster, as it ascends to the top and you feel yourself getting further off the ground. Imagine what it would be at the top, as you can see the entire theme park way up there where you are now. Now I want you to realize that the roller coaster is beginning to move forward, beginning to descend, and now begin to feel your stomach moving up your body because of the force of gravity. Imagine the entire ride as it would be; the sounds, the speed, the screams, everything. Now stop! Focusing your mind back on this article. The mental state you were just in is called an associated state. The opposite of associated state is called a disassociated state, and it would be imagining seeing yourself riding a roller coaster, not out of your own eyes, but rather, from a different viewpoint as if you watching yourself on a TV screen.
When we relive a painful or positive moment in our minds, we usually are in one of the two states. The intensity of emotions that are tied with those memories depends mostly upon which view state we are while we recall the experience.
Let me show you.
I want you to recall a recent event that really, really bothered you and would stir you up right now if you thought of it. I know you may not want to, but it is for the sake of teaching you my point. Go back to the event right now in your mind and imagine yourself being there, feeling what you are feeling, and seeing what you are seeing. Associate yourself with that situation, seeing it from your own eyes and feeling everything in your own body and notice what is happening to you right now as you do this. Not feeling too good right? Notice how you have evoked the same negative emotions that were actually there when it really happened back then, and have brought them to the now, by simply thinking about it.
Now clear your mind and focus back on this article.
The associated state is what most people tend to be in when they beat themselves up over something they did wrong or are suffering from something that happened that they can’t get over. The reason why the associated state is the most emotionally intense because your brain believes it is actually experiencing that situation again right now, and technically, it really is.
Now let’s go back to the same uncomfortable situation that you used before, but this time I want you to imagine yourself being disassociated from it, and observe yourself from a distance, as if you were another person in the room. Pretend you are a cameraman recording the experience, and you actually are not involved in the issues whatsoever. Notice that this time how you don’t feel attached; notice how the emotions may not even come with this situation or that their intensity has been drastically reduced because you are out of your body, so to speak. Notice because of all this how the situation very different from how it was before in the associated state.
You may have also noticed that while you were in the disassociated state that your mind may have even formed different opinions of the situation and has realized some things that you may have missed before while you were in the associated state. Perhaps you have noticed some ways that you could have improved the situation in your favor or maybe could have avoided it completely?
When you are in an associated state, your experiences are feel more intense and you are less likely to be able to think logically as your mind will be clouded by emotions. Furthermore, it would be difficult to even see other peoples’ points of view for the same reason. This happens to us all the time when we don’t take a step back and try to see a situation from a different disassociated state of mind.
Training yourself to start using the disassociated state to help you problem solve can be extremely beneficial in helping you overcome your personal challenges by helping you realize different solutions embedded in various different perspectives, all while learning to master your emotions at the same time.
There is actually a quick way to really disassociate yourself from an issue which may sound silly, but you should try it: Imagine your problem projecting from your eyes and into the palm of your hand, as if it was a movie projection beaming outward and just watch it playout as it would. Believe it or not, this is an extremely powerful and effective technique that teaches your mind to put the problem ‘out there’ so you aren’t affected by it as much, disassociating yourself even further than you would pretending to be someone else in your mind, allowing you to analyze it from an even clearer state. Go ahead and try it yourself the next time you have to deal with something that is negative and see what happens.
There are multiple levels of disassociation that you can use depending on what you want to accomplish:
Your other self: This will help you keep yourself in check by stepping out of the experience and viewing it as if you were your own life coach; even to go as far as giving yourself your own advice while you imagine the situation. Basically you would imagine your current-self going back in time, or in the future, and interacting with the self that you think is going to need your advice at that time. This will allow you to learn from your former mistakes by pointing them out to yourself, or help prevent the possibility of further mistakes that you could make, in case of the future.
The other person: If your current problem that you have involves another person, imagining seeing it from their eyes will allow you to see how the situation may affect them; not just putting yourself in their shoes, but their entire body, which can help you to realize how you may be contributing to the situation more negatively than you think you are and learn what you could do to adjust your approach accordingly. This also may help you gain a deeper understanding as to why the other acted the way they did, while showing you how you were as you acted how you did.
Innocent bystander: This is imagining what it would be like seeing your experience from the eyes of a person who has nothing to do with it; in other words, a neutral third party. This will allow you to detach yourself from the experience but still allow human emotion to guide the experience, since even the innocent bystander will be human and feel as if they could relate to both to find some common ground.
Non-human entity: This is imagining seeing your experience from a non-human point of view, such as pretending that you are a security camera recording the situation or imagining that you are or intelligent robot who is present while the situation unfolds. As silly as this may seem, this allows you to remove all human emotion from the situation because neither of these viewpoints would merit any as they are not human, thus allowing yourself to stick purely to data presented and being recorded in a non-biased way which could further give you more information of what went wrong or what can be done to fix it.
Play around with the different levels of the disassociated states and watch how much you can learn just by changing your perspective. The more you disassociate yourself from a situation, the less you feel emotionally attached to it, and thus, help relieve any mental anguish that comes with it.