“I hope that everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that.” (Gillian Anderson) – As seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.
Gillian’s advice focus attention on the fact that only you can change the way the day is going and your attitude and reaction to the events that are unfolding in front of you. You may choose to shrink down into a fetal ball and cry or wail “Woe is me” or you can decide to take action to change things – starting with your response to events. Sometimes we confuse a flurry of activity with actually accomplishing something, when all that it does is take our mind off things for a short while. There’s a little saying about that – “When in trouble or in doubt; run in circles, scream and shout.” That may sound funny to read, but that is what many of us do (at least emotionally) in a crisis. Accept the fact that in order to make things better, you must Do It Yourself (DIY).
So, today’s advice is about dealing with what life throws what you and changing how you let it affect you. There’s a little personal safety ditty about what to do if you should somehow catch fire (your clothing, I presume) – it goes “Stop, Drop and Roll”. Apparently, the initial reaction for many who catch fire might be to run, which only fans the flames more. So stopping rather than running is a good first step. The drop and roll advice is the way to smother the fire by taking away its air source. DIY.
In the normal day to day world we seldom catch fire; however, there are things that can burn us, whether they are work related or personal. Sometimes out initial reaction may be to run away from those things or maybe to run our mouths in reaction to them. Perhaps we should adopt a variation of the fire advice and “Pause, Think and Act”. DIY.
The first thing to do is to stop; to pause and let the event sink in a bit while you take step two which is thinking. The tendency to react to things too quickly usually gets us into more trouble. Lashing back at something or someone, whether physically or verbally, seldom does anything but add to the problem. Stopping to give yourself time to think allows you to formulate a proper response to things and not just a knee-jerk reaction. Sometimes, if the event involves another person, pausing also gives them a moment to reflect on what they just said or did and it gives them time to quickly apologize before you react. DIY.
The next step is thinking about how to react to the event. Perhaps making an effort to better understand what just happened or what caused it can help. Maybe saying, “Wow, I didn’t know that you felt that way” or “What brought that on; was it something that I did?” will give the other party a chance to explain their own outburst or action. It is important to understand that for the other person, there is a perception of reality that you currently don’t get. They see things differently than you do at that moment. Neither one of you are necessarily right or wrong, just on different wavelengths at that moment. Finding a way to a common understanding of the issues is the first step to resolving the difference. So now you’re thinking. DIY.
The next step – the “Act” part – is the first important step to resolving the issues. It is important that you act instead of react. Reacting to situations, unless you are very well trained and experienced in just such events, is almost always a self-protective move. You are punched, so you punch back. You are insulted, so you insult back. You are hurt, so you try to hurt back. Rather than react in those self-protective ways; having paused and thought about it, it is better to act in a way that will result in a more positive outcome. Maybe that will be to turn the other cheek. Maybe it will be not to take the bait of an insult or a hurtful remark. Perhaps it is as simple as asking yourself, “How can I make this better?” DIY.
It is not easy to always follow this advice, but I think that if you practice it on some of the simple things that you run into on a daily basis it will start to ingrain itself in you such that the little “Stop, Think, Act” ditty will pop into your mind when you hit a problem. When that happens you are in control. It may not make getting through some issues any easier, but it won’t make them any harder, which is what your old way of thinking may have done. You’ll also feel a little better if you start out with the thought “I’ve got control of this” in mind, rather than just panicking. DIY.
Like Gillian, I hope that you’ll have a great day, too; however, if things aren’t going the way you’d like them to remember to Pause, Think and Act. DIY.