We all need this 30-second trick that can save our relationship, job and friendship
1. Thinking before reacting
Picture this: Your partner once forgot to call you back or reply to your text and you ended up lecturing him or her about how they don’t value you in their life and have turned irresponsible. Later, you realised you made a mountain out of a molehill and could have easily dealt with this minuscule matter in a better way. Been there, done that? Well, we all have been in the situation where we blabber anything and everything without giving it much thought and end up regretting it later. But here’s an almost effortless and logical solution to tackle such situations and react in the right manner.
This psychological trick has just three steps and won’t take more than thirty seconds to practice. All you need to do is to take a deep breath, acknowledge what you are feeling and ask yourself a few questions. Here’s the low-down on how to go about it.
Instead of mindlessly reacting to any situation, the first thing you should do is to start deep breathing. It might seem a futile action but inhaling and exhaling helps you to distract (to some extent!) for a few moments and you do not respond immediately. It, in turn, sends oxygen to the prefrontal cortex in our brain and helps to perceive the situation calmly.
The next step is to acknowledge your feelings and give them a label. Whether you are upset, infuriated, angry, whiny or hurt, tell yourself how you are exactly feeling. Hold a short self-talk and it could be something on similar lines: “I am feeling annoyed right now” or “I am feeling really irritated and distraught.” It would help you understand that you are not in charge of your emotions right now and remind you that you need to treat the situation when you bounce back to the normal state. Secondly, it would regulate the activity in the prefrontal cortex that helps to think rationally and not being overpowered by your own emotions.
The third and the last step is to get a hold of the situation by asking yourself a few questions:
“Will I get something by overreacting?”
“Will these ten minutes matter in the long run, like next five years?”
“What lesson I can learn from this situation?”
“What are the things I can be grateful for?”
Questioning yourself would help you to reappraise the situation and switch your negative emotions to positive ones.
So the next time you are about to have an argument or heated discussion with your colleague, friend, partner or even a stranger, remember to breath, label your emotion and reassess the situation. By practising this trick in everyday life, you develop the power to respond to any conversation the way you want to and make it productive. Most importantly, it would save you from the stress from placating the situation, apologising or hurting others.