We hope this blog post finds you enjoying the last few weeks of summer! But let’s be real — it’s Nebraska — the summer heat is probably going to stick around.
With “Back to School” ads and “End of Summer Blowout!” sales bombarding us more and more each day, it’s easy to be overcome with a feeling of scarcity: not enough time, not enough money, not enough of you to tackle your to-do lists. Feelings of scarcity go hand-in-hand with feelings of stress, and that, dear friends, is the perfect recipe for feeling “In the Grip.”
What does it mean to be “In the Grip?”
We talked about this in our last blog post, but it’s worth revisiting quickly. Feeling “In the Grip” is when the least used, or inferior function, surfaces and flares up. This flare up of the inferior function is a persona that lives in all of us — think of it as an out-of-character version of yourself that comes out in response to fatigue or stress.
This exaggeration of the inferior function can be distressing to experience, as it displays itself as out-of-control, unstable, and unusual feelings that we don’t see as normal behaviors for ourselves. These feelings cause us to question ourselves and others, and can really feel like they’ve turned your world upside down.
What’s worse is that, because the inferior function is largely unconscious, it’s hard to recognize this change until the eruption of irrational and abnormal behavior is over.
What happens when we’re in In the Grip?
Feeling In the Grip is often an explosive experience — with immature and extreme feelings bubbling to the surface, you can often seem to become a “caricature” of yourself. Have you ever gotten a caricature drawn of you at a carnival or fair?
Sure, it looks similar to you, but your teeth aren’t that big, your eyes aren’t that expressive. The same can be applied to your inferior function: Sure, laziness makes you angry, but you wouldn’t yell at someone in public for it, would you? Well, if you’re overcome with stress and fatigue, your inferior function might.
When we’re In the Grip we succumb to tunnel vision on specific topics, lose our sense of humor, and unwittingly begin to trigger those around us. It’s a domino effect that can turn a workplace into a very negative environment.
So, how can we pull ourselves or others Out of the Grip?
When feeling In the Grip is such a subconscious experience, it might seem impossible to be able to pull yourself out of it. When you become aware of the contributing factors, however — stress, fatigue, illness, overuse of alcohol — it becomes a little easier to watch out for.
When you notice yourself feeling “worked up:” obsessive over small details, easily agitated, and catastrophizing (thinking the worst), it’s a good time to take stock of your situation. Simply recognizing that you are in a state of stress can be a powerful first step in pulling yourself out of In the Grip behaviors.
The most volatile In the Grip moments are the ones that happen when other people are involved. On the flipside, when you notice explosive, out-of-character feelings bubbling up in a discussion with someone else, try to keep a few of these tips in mind:
- Get defensive. When you scramble to defend yourself against accusations, harsh words and irrational thought cycles can easily make a situation worse.
- Contradict the other person
- Try to reason with the other person
- Make fun of the other person’s words or feelings. Sarcasm, especially, is unhelpful in confrontational situations and can escalate them quickly.
- Validate the other person’s concerns. You may not agree with them, but it’s important to recognize that everyone has valid feelings.
- Try to understand the other person’s point of view
- Agree to think about the points being made, and to discuss it with others for a clearer, less emotionally-charged perspective
- Agree to meet and discuss the issue at a specific time
By validating others’ points of view and tabling the discussion to a later time, you are able to remove yourself from a situation that is triggering you and/or the other person’s stressed self. This allows you to reassure the other people involved that you are considering their thoughts, while also allowing you to process your thoughts and feelings in a less volatile situation.
Trust us, we know what it’s like to be In the Grip, and we aren’t expecting you to be able to transform the situation into a campfire sing-along. But by recognizing how In the Grip feelings present themselves, and giving yourself time to let your stress dissipate, you’ll be equipped with the tools needed to de-escalate combative situations and focus more on successful interactions.