Often the word “meek” has a negative connotation as “too submissive.” Other definitions seem slightly more positive: ” slow to anger or resentment.” Let’s commit to another definition. A definition that can quickly remind us what is needed if our goal is to be effective with others:
Meek = Strength under control.
According to us Christians, “the meek shall inherit the earth.” Regardless of your God affiliation, meek can be the prompt causing us to pause, evaluate the situation, and accordingly, control our emotions.
According to Travis Bradberry , author and motivator extraordinaire, he explains this concept in a Forbes article, How Successful People Stay Calm : The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.
Psychology Today’s author, Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne , reveals some behaviors of strength under control [or ‘meek’] that emerge from practice.
Select the situation. Avoid circumstances that trigger unwanted emotions. If we know we’re likely to get angry when in a hurry, then don’t leave things for the last minute. Get out of the house or office 10 minutes before needed, and we won’t be bothered so much by pedestrians, cars, or slow elevators.
Shift the focus. Let’s say that we constantly feel inferior to the people around us who always look great. We’re at the gym and can’t help but notice the regulars on the weight machines who lift three times as much. Shifting our focus away from them… and focus on what we’re doing, and in the process, we’ll eventually gain some of the strength we desire.
Modify the situation. Perhaps the emotion we’re trying to reduce is disappointment. We’re always hoping, for example, to serve the “perfect” meal for friends and family, but invariably something goes wrong because we’ve aimed too high. Modify the situation by finding recipes that are within our range of ability so we can pull off the meal. We may not be able to construct the ideal soufflé, but we manage a pretty good frittata.
Change our thoughts. At the core of our deepest emotions are the beliefs that drive them. You feel sad when you believe to have lost something, anger when an important goal is thwarted, and happy when we believe something good is coming our way. By changing our thoughts, we may not change the situation, but can change the way we believe the situation is affecting us. In cognitive reappraisal we replace the thought that leads to unhappiness with thoughts that lead to contentment. For example, people with social anxiety disorder may believe that they’ll make fools of themselves in front of others for their social gaffes. They can be helped to relax by interventions that help them recognize people don’t judge them as harshly as they believe.
Change our response.
If all else fails, force reflection to gain control of our response. Our heart may be beating out a steady drum roll of unpleasant sensations when anxious or angry. Take deep breaths… think about the situation, and practice self control. C alm down. Similarly, if we can’t stop laughing when everyone is serious or sad, gather our inner resources, and force ourselves to change our facial expressions if not our mood.
Acknowledging personal, emotional triggers will help with the adoption of these meek techniques. Being able to alter our thoughts and reactions will build your confidence in your own ability to cope.
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the
other person to die.” Buddha