My blog is devoted to sharing personal development tools, techniques and tips that will inspire you to create a growth mindset, build resilience and manage your world more effectively.
The list could be endless, which for our own sanity isn’t great. So, what can we really do about it?
In most cases, the thing that I was ‘irrationally’ responding to was driven by other people (and sometimes technology), but either way, I was negatively responding the things that were out of my control. These are referred to as ‘EVENTS’– things that happen to or around you that are totally out of your control. We are unable to do anything about these so-called EVENTS. They happen and will continue to happen in the future.
The one thing we can CHOOSE to control is our ‘RESPONSE’ to these events. For some people, recognising that you actually have a choice, is ground-breaking in itself. But, we actually do have a choice. The one thing we can truly control in this world, are the thoughts and the responses we derive from these thoughts. This takes practise, especially when we’ve had years and years of letting our emotions control us, it can feel like a hard task to master but it is possible. The reality is, we have full control over how we respond to events out of our control, it’s simply a choice that we need to process and manage.
For example, let’s take the lovely situation of someone cutting you up dangerously on the motorway (I can already feel the potential frustrations rising). The action of them cutting us up is the EVENT (we cannot stop it from happening). Now…most people’s natural RESPONSE to this, would likely be somewhat colourful and aggravated. Feeling that frustration causes us to impart some interesting language and demonstrative hand gestures, which has a hugely negative impact on how we feel. For at least 10 minutes we drive away angry and if we are on a hands-free call at the same time, we would certainly opt to share with the caller the stupidity of the driver who just cut us up. The OUTCOME is frustration, anger and often anxiety.
But, what if we could choose a different RESPONSE. What if we could retrain our neurological habitual response to the event, to create a response that drives a more resourceful outcome? This doesn’t mean that everything will suddenly be rainbows and unicorns when something irritates you. It simply means that you will have a more resourceful response, be it a less aggravated feeling, or maybe getting over the frustration quicker, simply because you’ve adjusted the way you respond.
Remember that driver that kindly cut us up? Rather than reverting to the usual aggravated response, I might choose to re-frame my thoughts and when the event occurs, I would take a very deep breath and say ‘they are clearly in a hurry’. I admit, the first few times I chose this response, I said it through gritted teeth. However, over time as the new response became an active choice and a new habit, it genuinely helped me deal with those situations more positively and a new, more resourceful, OUTCOME was created.
Our brains are incredibly intelligent and if we train them well, they are very effective on our behalf. But, we do have to put the work in. Imagine you have just got a new dog, you don’t just suddenly expect that your dog will sit on command, you take time to nurture and train the dog to complete the desired trick of sitting upon request. This is the same with our brains, we can’t expect it to suddenly know how to change the way we think or have a new response without training it. Even on the days when we might not need to use a tool or technique, we still need to ensure we train the brain to complete the action we might need in a frustrating situation…we need to train it to sit, so to speak.
Each time you find yourself getting frustrated/angry/annoyed due to something happening that is out of your control. Take a moment to ask yourself….what response you can choose to create the most resourceful outcome, and practise this technique in less stressful situations to help train that brain.
Mastering this, and using this tool is one great way to enhance your thinking and emotion management.