Someone once said: ”We are either reacting to life or creating life”.
Due to the current situation, as we spend a lot of time indoors, we may not have enough headspace to clear our thoughts. Consequently, we can become snappy, responding very quickly to certain stimuli – whether it’s a person or a repeated situation in our environment. So how do you become less reactive and more thoughtful to create a more balanced life? In this blog post I’d like to share with you two practical tips that can help you change the way you respond.
What you focus on, grows
The thing is, when we don’t like something about our life we tend to focus more on that and consequently give more energy to it. Words like “I don’t like this”, “I’m not happy with this” can make us feel even worse about the situation, especially if it is repeating itself and it looks like there’s very little we can do about it. This is because we are not creating anything new by focusing on what is. We are basically going through the loops of the same emotions and consequently strengthening the same unwanted response. However, there are two simple things you can do that can help you break this cycle.
The first consists of taking three deep breaths before you decide to respond to something that’s been irritating you. Deep breathing send the message to your brain to calm down and is also one of the fastest ways to lower tension in the body. Focusing briefly on your breathing will give you the space to distance yourself from the situation and gather your thoughts. It will allow you the necessary space to ask yourself: “What do I actually want to achieve?”,“Do I want to respond like an automatic pilot or do I want something better for myself?”
Think how you’d like to feel instead
Very often we don’t actually stop to question our reaction as our habitual ways of responding naturally take over. However, pacing ourselves with breathing and becoming aware of the unhelpful pattern can give us the space to ask ourselves: “How do I actually want to be and feel instead in this situation?”
By focusing on our preferred response we are actually able to create new ways of being. When creating this, you can ask yourself: “How do I want to behave?”, “What kind of words would I like to use instead?”, “What about the tone of my voice and expressions on my face?”
Practice, practice, practice
When you have that clear image of how you’d like to be and feel instead, you can practice it in your mind, by holding the image of the new you whenever you find yourself in a challenging situation. When you do this, you are literally shifting your focus from things you don’t want to creating something more beneficial.
By rehearsing this in your mind several times a day, you are actually giving yourself a task. Interestingly, when we do that, then our brain knows what to do in a similar situation. It’s like giving it clear instructions. The good news is, the more you practice, the more natural it becomes. Consequently, when the challenging situation occurs again, you’ll notice you have the elements of the new you that you had in mind.
Want to read more? Try this – When anxiety presents as anger