“What do you do when you get caught up? Something happens and it bursts your positive bubble. Your momentum is thrown off, the apple cart upset. How do you react? How should you? How could you? Is there a better way to behave when when s–t hits the fan?
First, to ‘get caught up’ is an apt description. We get caught, hooked just like a fish. We think things are great and the next thing you know we swallowed a big hook. That sucks! What do we do?
We do whatever it is we do. Nature takes its course. We may get angry even while knowing it would be best not to. We may do things against our better judgement and against our own best interests. It happens. Sometimes we react without thinking and sometimes we react while thinking we ought to be doing something else.
We are hot and bothered but not in the good way. We are hurting, angry, scared, lashing out. We are desperate and convinced the world is ending or at least turing bad on this very point. We are absolutely hooked and we are reacting automatically. Again, we are caught up in it.
Whatever it is triggered a response from us. An unwanted, painful uncomfortable response. Maybe we yelled at ourselves. Perhaps, we shouted at a loved one or co-worker. We created pain for others too. Why not? Maybe they hurt us first? Right? Wrong!
Nothing justifies a poor, bad or negative reaction. There is no excuse for yelling at ourself or others. However, if that is what happen that is what happened. I will come back to this in a moment. The first thing is to acknowledge, whenever you become aware, is that you reacted as you did. Accept responsibility and realize you did as you did.
The truth is you went haywire. You lost control. You fought or fought back. Whatever it is accept it. There are consequences to our actions. For every cause there is an equal and opposite effect. You may have started other wheels spinning or like dominos you just knocked over the very first one.
Ok, that is what was, and what might be. First, accept responsibility without blaming yourself for your reaction. YOU reacted. YOU lost control. Sad to say so but that is what happened. Accept it without shaming yourself. That won’t help you end that issue.
Accept you behaved poorly, acknowledge it, and turn your attention to how you could have behaved or responded better or more appropriately. What could you have done differently, even though you didn’t?
Figure out what the most positive response is that could benefit everyone in a positive and productive way. How might you have behaved that could have kept things in check (possibly) instead of them rampaging out of control?
In order to behave better in the future you have to know what behavior you want instead. YOU just got slammed right in the face big time with the behavior you don’t want. Consider it a godsend. Pretend someone somewhere, the universe is sending you an incredible message and opportunity.
Your hot, negative, unwanted thoughts, feeling and behaviors are all exactly what you don’t want. Hopefully, the messenger gets through because the messenger tells you, ‘okay that happened, own up to it, make restitution, and NOW focus on what you DO want instead.’
You reacted instead of responded. You reacted to whatever the circumstances dictated and you fell victim to it. Hey, we all do it so blame is not the name of this game. Get over yourself. Determine your positive course, the positive thoughts, feelings, behaviors and results you want in your future instead.
The first key in getting unhooked is to notice that YOU got hooked. Then, once you notice it, you do what you need to to get unhooked. In the human’s case we need to focus on what we want and where we want to end up instead. We want more productive responses next time.
There are many ways to do this I will discuss in future blogs. We can use our imagination, our internal movie theater, self-talk, affirmations, Directed Questions™ and more for just this sort of thing.
My point is this: We evolve ourselves. In evolution somethings take time. Some things take repeated examples or exposures. Some lessons it seems we have to learn again and again until we eventually get it. AND THAT IS OKAY! That is just the way it is.
We may want it to be different. We may wish it were like all the promises the media makes for instant relief and magic gadgets but life is more like a flowering garden. Beautiful things just take some time to appear. We grow, adapt, and evolve.
So again no blame, no shame. The best thing you can do is acknowledge your reaction and pat yourself on the back and hope you will notice the next ones too. Praise yourself not for your reaction but for you becoming aware that you reacted and were focused on what you did not want. This provides you a choice point and the opportunity to change.
This increases the likelihood that you will become aware and notice quicker in future episodes because you aren’t punishing yourself. No one likes that. Well, at least fewer people do. Awareness is the doorway that opens for you to find new opportunity. Validate your awareness and it willingly works to benefit you.
Determine to respond better in the future. Again, I’ll share more later but if you read my blog regularly there are lots of tips and secrets and practices and principles you can apply right now to begin doing that.
Own your reaction. Take responsibility. Make an apology genuinely and promise to never do that again. Do whatever must be done to correct any wrong doing or harm. Help provide healing. Sometimes that means walking away too and leaving the other person alone if they request that. Be respectful!
That last point is an important one for behavior in the world. Walk away.
‘When we ‘react’ it causes pain because it is a ‘knee jerk’. It means we have no choice. We actually do have choice but it happens so fast or things start snowballing out of control that it seems as if we don’t and we can’t help it.
We always have choice and the choice point is right smack in the beginning. Something happens outside of us or within us to set it off. Things start happening. There is actually a sequence. It may seem one moment we are fine and the next we flew of the handle but there is an actual sequence of events that happen in real time.
Neurons fire. Neural pathways are activated. Signals are sent Hormones and chemicals are released. Our body is preparing for FIGHT OR FLIGHT!
In jungle days with real world predators we needed this to run very fast or fight very strong to survive. We need it much more rarely in our modern world and we don’t need it when most arguments ensue.
BUT IT IS THERE anyway. To serve us. Because we think we are being threatened when in fact we are, but not in that life-threatening way. We need to learn to better respond and adapt to our circumstances than be walking around as jungle cave people in the 21st century. Don’t you think?
Because there is a sequence it takes time. YES, it happens very fast. REALLY really fast. BUT you can still catch it. THAT is precisely why we want to encourage our awarenesses. We want to become aware as it is happening that there is something WE CAN DO instead.
We can actually divert the behavior into new more productive behaviors and new neural pathways.
We just have to catch the moment first. AT the very instant of the trigger, we are caught unawares, and then the body takes over and begins to release chemicals. As these chemicals and the neurons begin traveling their routes we feel the changes.
Maybe we get ‘hot under the collar’ or ‘red in the face’ maybe we ‘see red’ or feel tension increase. Anything, any way you describe it, is possible.
The point is to become aware as this happens. As the chemicals release its called Emotional Flooding. We get flooded with feelings and sensations. IF we notice them, again the reason awareness is important, we can change them right then. We have this choice brief choice point to give us time or room to respond differently.
Imagine for a moment you are at the top of a hill with a huge boulder. You are in front of it. It begins to roll down hill. ALL you have to do is put your arm out and you can stop it from rolling. You really can. The reason you can stop it is that it just began. You caught it right in the beginning.
It didn’t have time to build momentum. Had you been four or five feet away, or ten or more you would not be able to stop it at all. You would have to jump aside. It has too much momentum by then. It is the same with our emotions flooding us. If we catch them right at the beginning we can be different. IT can be different.
This flooding seems fast and is because the neural pathways have been traveled countless times before. They are well worn and utilized. In order to change we have to provide new pathways. It will take awhile for them to get well worn in too. Still, we do have choice.
Awareness is the first step. The second is to decide to choose what else to do instead. One of the best things to make habit is to take a very deep breath. Breath. Breath again. Breathing helps to change what is happening in the body. So does pacing or walking as long as you don’t use the walking to build momentum.
Take a deep breath. Change your body posture. Move, walk, don’t remain in the same place. Keep breathing slowly. EMT’s are known to have a person walk off the adrenaline when in an accident or a near miss.
When the flooding happens people get jittery as the chemical floods into the system. You can’t get rid of it, you can’t just dump it. but you can use it in a managed activity. Walking. You could skip or dance but on the street they also are concerned with safety. So move calmly and breath to better utilize what the body is giving you.
Take a breath. Create that pause in the flood. Use your own body to stop the momentum and you prevent the emotional boulder from shooting down the hill. You can stop the flooding. It can be done. You divert it into a more productive and less destructive path.
Choice is important. When you make a decision you can change your thoughts and feelings to respond in a more beneficial manner for yourself and others. You can choose to walk away from the fight.
It may not seem like it now but you really can. You can choose to do nothing at all. It does not, necessarily, require that anything be done just because you got hot.
When you create the pause, the gap, that room, you can begin to see that this is true. You don’t have to continue on you can respond differently!
The only way to decide differently is to create that space by making the pause happen. You create the pause, which slows the flood, you positively manage the resulting emotions converting them into other relaxed responses. You get your head clear.
You are creating new neural pathways. You are changing the old route to a new one. The result is the same as when you moved to a new residence. You have a different address. You end up in a different place.
You pause, (breath and move and continue to) you relax, let go, and continue as needed. You direct your mind to more useful places, thoughts and behaviors (Directed Questions™ were created for this).
YOU chose a new more productive, positive, useful response. It could be anything. As long as it isn’t the old one and it is positive and constructive you are doing yourself a great service.
You have just stopped the emotional flooding, got unhooked and created a new neural pathway to travel to a new address. Fantastic! Celebrate and be grateful!
Appreciate that you have taken control instead of being a victim of your own chemistry and emotions. You determined you were going to re-route them. Pat yourself on the back!
Just as when you actually move from one address to a new address you may, from time to time, discover yourself taking the old way to the old home. This can happen with behaviors too. In time, by taking the new route to the new place enough times you make it a well worn pathway.
You have lost nothing. You can still always find your way to the former residence, if you were to choose to. You haven’t lost anything, you aren’t deprived of anything. What changed is you have a new, more useful productive, constructive pathway to a beautiful new residence.
Travel there happily. You find you don’t even think about the old route but you could if you wanted to. How cool is all of this? Pretty wonderful, if you ask me. You always have choices available.
In the next blog I will share with you a ways to wire this in. The one after that I’ll discuss developing a new mindset to give yourself new choices. Meanwhile celebrate and enjoy!” Rex Sikes
Find delight in your day and night!
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