3 Responses to Help You Win at Everything!
Well, here we are starting another week. (Mondays, amiright?)
I have anxiety. Let’s get that out in the open right now. Do I “suffer” from anxiety? I wouldn’t say I do, however, it’s always there, lurking around in the shadows of my brain waiting to smack me around in tough situations. The trick is to know it’s there, but to do something about it.
Anxiety has taught me, more than anything, how not to react to situations. Being reactive can cause more issues than you are capable of handling. It may cause you to have panic attacks, or leave a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, or even avoid commitments or events in case either of the aforementioned reactions occurs.
So, in order to be proactive, rather than reactive, I have learned 3 responses that have helped me to not only keep anxiety in check, but to help anyone, anywhere, in ALL situations.
Don’t believe me? Just try them out:
The first step is to take every situation that stresses you out, or makes you feel uncomfortable, and instead of reacting immediately, just STOP. Stop in the middle of the chaos around you and THINK — or in more current terms, PROCESS. Even if you need to take a deep breath, count to 3 or 10, or even 100. Do NOT let it affect your reactive responses immediately. And let your brain decide to consciously choose one of the following responses:
- BE KIND — Is the situation one where someone is looking or help? Is this a situation that could be fixed, simply by you lending a hand? For example, a friend is calling or texting you and she is having a melt down because her kids are driving her mental or her vehicle won’t start and she’s late for a meeting. Is there a way that you can help her? Or, your child is freaking out because she can’t find the shirt that she wanted to wear to school today. You know she’s tired, she is stressed out because she wants to look good for school. Can you help her out? Or a coworker is losing her mind because she was just hauled into the office for being late too many times last week. Is there anything you can do to make her feel better? Kindness and support always go a long way and can help you to respond to a situation in a positive way. Kindness can also help you to relax, feeling that you have done what you could so you can move forward.
- BE STRONG — What does STRONG look like to you? Sometimes, strong means walking away from a situation that you feel uncomfortable or hurt by. Strong can also look like the words you exchange. Perhaps the situation is a meeting where one of the board members tells you there will be wage cuts. Strong could be, you speaking up and reminding them of how hard you work for your salary and coming up with alternatives such as less overtime or less hours charged in a day. Strong could also be when your spouse comes home miserable after work and you ask them what’s wrong? They tell you about how horrible traffic was and how the boss made them upset. Your response, as a strong person could be as simple as an acknowledgement of their stress and encouraging them to help with dinner prep, to get their mind off of their day or offering them a new route to work by sharing time over a Google map. Or if your child is having a tantrum because of homework that they were given, strong could be you reminding your child that school is their job and they need to complete it. (You could also be kind and offer to help if they don’t understand something)
Being strong has a couple of caveats, however. If you’re strong and share a strong belief or argument, typically the recourse is just that, an argument. Being strong also requires follow through. So, if you choose to stand up and be strong about an opinion of others or you offer alternatives or solutions for a problem, be prepared to always follow through. This is not always a bad thing.
Being strong means that you see a situation that could use a new opinion or solution in order to fix it. If you see that you could solve the issue, be strong and offer to help, or be strong and listen to what others are trying to tell you without reacting immediately with an argument. Be strong and offer an alternative in a calm manner. If this is ineffective, refer to Response #3 .
3. BE COOL — Sometimes the BEST response is to just BE COOL. Just CHILL. Don’t react, don’t respond. Just sit back and watch the situation unfurl around you as you process what your next step will be. This is my go-to before I consider any other responses. This one takes practice. I learned that chilling out and letting events unfold around me gives me time to really think about whether or not it even requires my attention.
Your spouse looks at you and asks you, “Are you sure you’re going to wear that out for dinner tonight?” after you just spent a half-hour getting re-dressed after a long day of work. Most of us would respond by feeling horrible or hurt by a comment such as this. I know I used to. But NOW, with my new BE COOL power, I simply smile and get in the car beside him, no reaction no response. It drives my point home without saying a single word. This action, or response, usually means you have to be strong as well. Let’s face it, it takes strength to not react when you feel hurt. It takes strength to “be cool”.
Whether you are an anxious person or struggle with depression, or are just a “normal” reactive person, the 3 responses should always be in the forefront of your arsenal of tools. NOT REACTING immediately throws people off-guard, while you share situations with them. They question why you are so conscientious to various life stressors and it may make THEM uncomfortable. Sometimes, they even follow your lead and take their own pause in the midst of chaos to calculate their response, and it becomes contagious.
Just a couple days ago, I found myself in the midst of chaos in my office environment. September is always a crazy month for us and tension runs high with deadlines, reports, running around and being accountable for our work hours. It’s nuts. During some moments I needed to just be cool and take myself out of the craziness by sitting back and allowing everyone else to feel their emotions. I was also kind and helped a colleague complete a few tasks to get her caught up. And, I was STRONG, by not allowing myself to become affected by the negativity and the stress of others.
It is easy to get caught up in all the madness and feel the same pressures as those around you. It is so easy to get stuck in the core of your spouse and kids when they are struggling. We take on those emotions and feel the same as they do, even when the issues are NOT OURS.
Imagine a slide show, or flip chart in your mind every time you are surrounded by chaos. Take a deep breath and visualize 3 flash cards on your slide show.
BE KIND — BE STRONG — BE COOL
Sometimes you may need to use a combination of the three. First, you try and be kind, and then be cool. Or maybe you try and be strong, then back off and be cool while your strong actions sinks in. Or maybe you use all three:
Take the situation with your child’s “special shirt”
Be kind: Try to help her find it or offer alternatives. Offer help and suggestions.
Be strong: She has 15 minutes before the bus comes and hasn’t had breakfast “You need to choose a different shirt so you can have breakfast. You need to choose now, or you will walk to school”
Be cool: She is still losing her shit and you have tried to be kind and strong. You casually put her breakfast on the table and sit down with your copy. Ignore her actions and shake off the stress. She will figure it out. If she doesn’t you need to follow through with your “be strong” statement, without allowing it to become YOUR problem.
Each of these responses have their own applications, but each of them typically give you a different response from the opposing problem. Taking a moment to pause before you react to determine which tool you will use from your box will help you to understand the situation more clearly. While you pause, ask yourself; Can I help? (Be kind) Do I need to speak up? (Be strong) Can I just sit and watch this happen without getting emotionally invested? (Be cool)
You will be amazed to visualize the crisis around you, through an entirely different lens. It also helps you to determine if you NEED to be emotionally invested in tough environments, or if you can just sit back and let it all work itself out.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
— Viktor E. Frankl
“Not every instance requires a response. Truth resides silently in the seat of power.”
― T.F. Hodge, From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with “The Divine Presence”