I was on a course the other day.  Part of the course looked at what stresses us out, what annoys us and how we react to those triggers and where our breaking point is.

The causes of stress as you can imagine were many and varied, partners, noisy eaters, people with poor time keeping, dangerous driving or a hard long day at work etc. 

The solutions were the usual solutions, sitting in the garden, going for a walk, having a rant, going to the pub for a drink or having a drink at home .

Me, being me, suggested that one solution was to choose not to get stressed in the first place.  The lady leading the course took one look at me and stated that that response was unhelpful.

That surprised me.  I wasn’t expecting that.  So I said nothing more, however I logged it.  Then thought, there’s a blog there.  And here it is.

Funnily enough the place to start was actually discussed earlier in the course.  When you meet a situation, any situation, do you react to it or respond to it?

Take a second, think about it.  Do you react, or respond?

The two actions are very different and are based on very different ways of thinking.


If you react there is no actual thinking involved.  You are following a preprogramed behaviour pattern.  It is natural to think I am in control of my thinking, but think about it?  Do you actually think about every action you take when driving a car?  Or operating your mobile phone?  Or going through your morning routine after the alarm has gone off and you are still half asleep?  Come to that, can you imagine what would happen if you had to remember to breathe, or make your heart beat? 

Sleep would be out for a start.

There are many, many automatic patterns we have stored in our subconscious mind.  This person did this, so therefore I should think that and, react, in this way.

For example, that person just cut me up in my car, therefore I must be annoyed with them.

My husband is late home from work again, his dinner is going cold and I was looking forward to seeing him, so I must feel upset.

Not only do we react in these preprogramed ways, but we have endless justifications for them and they usually make us feel worse.

Now here’s the rub!  You can’t have an emotion without having thought about it first.

Take a second, think about it. You can’t have an emotion without having a thought about it first.  Usually that thought is preprogramed.

You can also choose how long you let those emotions have control over you too.  To be fair we do need those emotions to help give us balance emotionally.  But we can choose how long they have control of us.

Alternatively, we can also respond.

Responding requires us to take a moment, (at least) before we choose an action.

Is the action appropriate?

Is the action necessary?

Who does it help?

Is it as bad as we first think?

 I’ll discuss responding more next time, or you could get in contact, or come along on one of my walks!

Of course, this may not apply if you are experiencing any mental difficulties, and I do know all about anxiety…

Simon Pollard Countryman and Modern Day Pagan.

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