Have you ever lost your temper? Ever get mad at another driver and chase them down the freeway? Have you ever fallen into the mulligrubs and can’t seem to find a way out? The secret to not having our lives wrecked by momentary insanity is in how we respond.
The secret to not having our lives wrecked by momentary insanity is in how we respond.
We are emotional creatures. We think, feel and act based on the input we take in around us. Wake up to the sun glimmering in on your face and the sound of brand new baby birds chirping outside your window, and you start off your day one way.
Wake up to the neighbors dog barking its stinking head off at 5:00 AM, or walking in the laundry room and stepping in cat pee from the night before, or reaching for your favorite cup for coffee only to discover its filled with the left over “goo” experiment your nine-year old son was working on, and I guarantee you your day starts off different.
Add a few crazy drivers cutting you off on your way to work, and by the time you get to the office you are steaming hot! And that’s not the kind of hot you feel like in your new pumps and black dress. (Just to clarify)
So what determines how long we “stew” in what happens to us?
Stop reading for a moment and take a deep breath. Hold it. Hold it. Now let it out. Did you do the exercise? Yes? That’s how simple it is to let go of what you are stewing over. Didn’t do my breathing exercise? That’s how easy it is to decide to hold on and stew longer.
It’s not what happens to you but how you respond to what happens. Oh, it’s not going to be easy. Rage, despair, agony, stress, anxiety and fear are ALL legitimate feelings, and STRONG feelings too. But they are still feelings triggered by our perception of what happens to us.
The early morning sun warming our face causes us to see ourselves and our world from one perspective. As a result, we experience associated feelings of happiness, joy and success. We experience the exact opposite when racing cars, barking dogs, cat pee, and goo experiments in our favorite coffee cup is how we start off the day. These things ignite agitation. At that moment, our world seems out of order and we respond accordingly.
The KEY is to DO THE OPPOSITE.
You’ve been living these up and down cycles long enough to know how you are going to respond, right? You know when she ticks you off and you play hard to get for weeks after. You know when he hurts your feelings and you withdraw from him, stewing and determined you’re going to make him apologize first.
We all know ourselves really well. To break free from this vicious cycle, we need to do the opposite. If you would normally storm out the back door, holler at the neighbor calling him a stupid idiot, and demanding he shut his dog up or else, respond the opposite. Gently get up, close the window, go back to bed, put a pillow over your head and call it a done deal.
If you would normally drag your seventeen-year old out of bed and make her clean up the cat pee while lecturing her on responsibility and threatening to take every last thing she loves away from her until she grows up and becomes RESPONSIBLE, try gritting your teeth, walk through the pee, get what you need from the dryer, and proceed to the shower. (Everything washes off anyway, right?)
The point is, to stop the cycle you have to stop responding to it the way you always do. If you keep doing what you are doing you will keep getting what you’re getting.
“To stop the cycle you have to stop responding to it the way you always do.”
So the next time your day starts off less than desirable, or along the way someone or something attempts to steal your joy or disrupt your happy moment, think about how you would normally respond, and DO THE OPPOSITE. You, and a whole lot of others around you, will be glad you did.