The Strategist

What differentiation is and why we need it in business and everyday life

04/02/2021 - 03:55

Imagine if you dialed 911 and the operator also panicked and did not send anyone to you. If everyone agreed with everyone else, we would still be afraid of falling off the edge of the earth. Being able to think has literally changed the world. In order to calm down and mind your own business, you must learn to separate your thoughts and feelings from those of others.

So, differentiation is the ability to separate thoughts and feelings and differentiate one's own thoughts and feelings from others' thoughts and feelings.

When we are able to differentiate thoughts and feelings, we are less affected by other people's anxiety. Differentiated people do not forget about themselves and are able to communicate adequately with their loved ones even in difficult situations.

Differentiated people are not robots, they too are familiar with anxiety, but they do not succumb to it and slow its increase. They recognise the difference between real and imagined danger, turn off the autopilot and take control of themselves. They also don't let their feelings get in the way. Anxiety is like a news channel correspondent, it just wants to make a hype. Reason, on the other hand, is a calm radio editor who is primarily interested in facts.

To calm down, think about what is really going on. Let your inner advisor lay it all out.

Many people don't seem to be driven out of their minds by anything. We rarely come across people who slap or shout into a phone receiver. For the most part, we are all on time for work and pay our taxes very carefully. Unless we're all a bit neurotic and eager to please those around us. But anxiety doesn't sleep: alarms go off, and instead of reacting, reactivity kicks in.

To achieve comfort, anxiety requires immediate action, even irrational action. Reactivity, on the other hand, assumes that we will think and do what we think is right. Let's look at examples of reactivity and responsiveness.

Manifestations of reactivity (feeling)
  • Responding to emails that don't require an immediate response at ten o'clock at night.
  • Being afraid to take risks for fear of getting rejected.
  • Set deadlines that are impossible to meet.
  • Trying to be helpful.
  • Do things you find uninteresting or pointless.
  • Checking to see how many likes you get.
Reaction (reasoning)
  • Voicing your opinion.
  • Not seeing rejection as a disaster.
  • Setting realistic deadlines.
  • Refusing tasks that are not in your best interests or values.
  • Not trying to control the emotions and actions of others.
Take a look at the first list and notice the focus - it is outward. In a reactive state, we try to 'read' other people's thoughts. They probably didn't like my idea. What if they thought I was stupid? Should I send a second letter, a nicer one?

That said, anxiety always inclines us towards the worst possible options.

Anxiety makes life very difficult. Constantly trying to be liked takes its toll and we treat ourselves with caffeine, alcohol, overeating, TV and shopping, set the bar even higher and seek solace in other people.

Many manage to last quite a long time in this mode. But any wave of stress caused by loss, separation or redundancy can instantly shatter a fragile sense of self.

based on "Everything Isn't Terrible" by Kathleen Smith

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