There’s a big difference between our reactions and our responses, but for many people out there, they are one in the same.
For example, this is the underlying issue for those in need of anger management or for those that seem to go off the deep end when a small negative event happens.
There are 6 stages we go through when experiencing an event, 5 of which we have some influence over:
1. Mental Wellbeing
2. The event
3. Our reaction
4. Window of Opportunity
Mental wellbeing basically refers to the frame of mind you’re in when an event takes place. Variables that feed your mental wellbeing are your basic needs, such as having ample food, water, and sleep, self-care, and your ability to effectively manage stress. If we disregard taking care of our mental wellbeing, we will not be in the best frame of mind to create positive change. To make improvements here, make enough time to eat nutritiously, get ample sleep on a routine basis, and have enough physical exercise to effectively manage stress.
The event is the experience that puts everything into motion. The good news is events are neither good nor bad. They are blank pieces of information in which we paint our past experiences and perspectives. To create the most change here, we must actively create as many explanations for the event as possible. If we don’t do this, our mind will naturally draw on our negative experiences that resemble the current event because our mind’s most basic instinct is to protect us from harm, including emotional harm. To counterbalance this natural process, we mustn’t go with our first perception. We must strive to list as many different perspectives as we can generate. This is probably the most important aspect of all, so practice, practice, practice.
Our reaction is going to be our gut instinct based on how we perceive the event. This will happen immediately. In the beginning phases of learning emotional control, it will be very common for your gut instinct to be negative because your first perception of the event will most likely be negative. That’s ok. That’s just where you begin so don’t be discouraged if this happens. Another side note is that sometimes your gut reaction is the “right” response. It takes time to recognize which reactions you can trust and which you can’t. As long as you are focusing on creating as many explanations for the event as possible, this step will become easier for you.
Our window of opportunity can pass us by in the blink of an eye. In the beginning stages of emotional control, it may not seem like you have any time at all, but I promise you do! The goal is to create more and more space/time between our reaction and our response. The more time we have, the better choice we can make regarding an appropriate response to the event.
Your response is an active choice. The main difference between a reaction and a response is that the response involves action. When there is little time between a reaction and a response, our response can be way over the top given the circumstances. With enough practice, your response becomes more rational, controlled, and thought out. This usually equals less chaos and fewer overreactions.
The consequences we experience are the one aspect we have little control over. The reason is that we have little say as to how things pan out after we have responded to an event. The consequences that we face could be decisions made by other people or could be due to time and/or opportunity, which we have little control. That is why it is so important to be mindful of the previous 5 aspects of emotional control. The only thing we can try to do is stack the deck in our favor.
So there you have it. That’s the short version of how to gain more emotional control in 2014. For more tips on mental wellbeing and creating positive change, please check out my eCourse, “Ignite: Tap Into Your Power & Create Your Best Self”, which launched January 13. Make this year the year you get it right!
|Written on 1/16/2014 by Megan Hale.|
Photo Credit: Sergiosvox