At some point, every one of us will get angry at work. Maybe our boss publicly criticized our work, a colleague bashed our cool idea in a meeting, or an employee ignored our instructions for the umpteenth time. Feeling some anger or resentment in those situations isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it’s probably to be expected. But being unable to let go of that anger is a real problem.
Research has shown that people who do well at forgiving others (i.e. letting go of their anger and resentment) typically experience fewer negative physical health symptoms, like disorders of the cardiovascular or immune system, and fewer negative mental health symptoms, like anger and depression.
Psychologists Özlem Ayduk and Ethan Kross (from UC Berkeley and University of Michigan, respectively) have conducted some powerful research on what happens when we instead replay those negative experiences from a self-distanced, third-person perspective (the video camera in the corner or the fly on the wall perspective). Instead of seeing through our own eyes and replaying that situation, we imagine how a video camera would have seen it, so we would be outside of our body watching both ourselves and our boss.
In one such study, Ayduk and Kross asked subjects to recall a time when they were enraged by a conflict with a romantic partner or a close friend: preferably a conflict that’s unresolved and still highly upsetting. They then analyzed how people did their recalling. Some put themselves right in the moment with a first-person view. But others employed self-distancing; they recalled the conflict as though they were a fly on the wall, almost like an out-of-body experience in which they could see themselves interacting with the romantic partner or friend.
And here’s where it gets interesting. People who employed self-distancing—they imagined the situation from the perspective of a fly on the wall—felt much less intense emotional and physical reactions. They felt more closure. And their blood pressure rose less and returned to its normal rate more quickly.
Read the full article at Forbes.