You might remember in part One I had been on a course and got into trouble for suggesting you could choose whether, or not, to be upset.

I also suggested you couldn’t have an emotion without having a thought first.

I suggest the lady found these ideas so far from her comfort zone that she just reacted to them!

It’s easy to react.  We just let our automatic reactions take over.  Even when we think we know better. A couple of days ago I had a parcel from Amazon to return.  Simple process: print out the form and take it to a Hermes agent.  Don’t even wrap the package, they’ll do it for you.

Whilst I am wrestling with the Q code reader, the gentleman running the shop, says they can’t take the parcel because it’s not wrapped. The conversation began reasonably and then the gentleman said, ‘we DON’T have NO wrappings here’.  Anyone who knows me will know I am now totally and utterly hooked! A double negative! The grammar police are in town.

‘So, you do have wrapping then!’  I replied.

Very quickly this degenerated to a bit of a slanging match.  As soon as I realised what had happened, I apologised and left quickly, disgusted with myself.  I know better and I’d let myself get dragged down to the other gentleman’s level. Effectively I had given away control of the situation by letting my emotions take hold.

Think about it though, you can get upset, or fired up by watching a movie.  You have the stimulus which provides the thought and then you have the emotion.  A movie is an artificial creation, it’s not real, but you have the emotion any way.  You have to have the thought first.  It’s common for a book to produce the same reaction and so does music.

I remember watching Ewan McGreggor in the amazon jungle with Ray Mears.  It was teeming down with rain and Ewan was working hard to follow the advice he’d been given by Ray, ‘it’s easy, all you’ve got to do is keep the rain outside your head’.  Ewan was struggling but he had the awareness to make that choice.

I’ve been running businesses for years and there are times when the number of tasks to be completed in a short time can be ‘stressful’, but you don’t have to be headless chicken.  Keep your head ‘slow’, it takes a little practice, however, it is possible.  You also make fewer errors, forget fewer tools or cakes or whatever.  Then you can drive slower, have less road rage because other drivers won’t get out of the way.  That’s one I’ve talked about before, live now, rather than catastrophise about the future based on the events of the past.  Although if you’ve been doing this for long enough, the events of the past should produce better predictions. Then you arrive on time and look very professional.

The same applies to your personal life too.

If you apply this strategy to bad news when it comes it will pay dividends then too.  I had some bad news last week.  It would have been easy to react and make some snap decisions, get angry, make some aggressive phone calls, stamp about or grab a stiff drink; all of which would probably have made things worse.  I chose to ignore it for at least 24 hours.

It’s a strange phenomenon, but waiting for 24 hours always takes the sting out of any bad news, whether it’s bad news at work, your car breaking down, the TV going POP whatever it is…  It also allows you to think through various scenarios or solutions in an unhurried manner, before arriving at the best solution and acting on it.  If you really want to be sanctimonious it also allows you to say to yourself, ‘thank God I didn’t…. (insert relevant action here)!’

I should mention here that there are some situations where an very rapid reaction is required, an accident for example, but if you already have a habit of thinking purposefully and progressively even these are simpler to achieve efficiently.

Remember too, as I said last week, responding often only requires us to take a moment, (at least) before we choose an action. If I’d taken a second in the shop…

Is the action appropriate?

Is the action necessary?

Who does it help?

Is it as bad as we first think?

In conclusion, if you respond you have control in any given situation, if you react, you give it away!

Simon Pollard Countryman and Modern Day Pagan.

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