SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, coaches Kim Giles and Nicole Cunningham share the trick to pausing before you react to check yourself and show up at your best.
I am, admittedly, a drama queen at times. I hear this from my family and I have had friends comment on it too. I frankly think they are every bit as much the problem as I am. How can I get them to see they are projecting onto me and are also drama queens? How can we all not let things make us overreact?
The only person you have any control over is you. So, it makes sense for each of us to focus on being the best version of ourselves we can be. That is actually a big job and could keep us quite busy.
The opposite of overreaction and drama queen behavior would be the ability to see the world accurately, handle emotions maturely, and thoughtfully respond from a place of trust and love, instead of reacting to situations from fear. We realize that’s a tall order and isn't easy, but we believe working to reach for that should be the goal.
We all need to work on gaining the self-control to pause before reacting so here are 7 simple questions you could ask yourself, that would help you to think and respond with more emotional maturity. Though, we realize the hard part is stopping your reaction long enough to remember to ask them. You might want to make them your wallpaper on your phone for a while.
Here are the 7 questions to ask yourself before reacting:
1. How big of a deal will this be 10 years from now?
If you can tell that 10 years from now, this will be insignificant, then consider letting it go now. If you feel like it still needs to be addressed, ask for some time and space to get clarity around the right (loving and respectful) way to approach it. If you don’t know how, you might want to find a coach or counsellor who could teach you some communication skills around having mutually validating conversations.
2. Am I taking this more personally than I have to?
Most of us only behave badly when we feel threatened. We are either afraid of looking bad or being insulted (failure) or we are being mistreated in some way (a loss). These two fears drive most of our bad, reactive behavior.
Most of the time, other people's bad behavior isn’t about us at all. They are behaving this way because they feel threatened and unsafe in some way. It is all about their fears about themselves and what’s happening in their life or in their own head. It’s usually not about you (even when they attack you).
If you can step back and see the situation accurately, and understand it’s not about you, you are much less likely to respond badly. Remember, your value is the same, no matter what anyone else does, thinks or says. You cannot be diminished and whatever happens in your life, happens to serve your education in some way. So, you really have nothing to fear. When you take the time to pause and remember this, your responses are much more mature.
3. Is my own fear of not being good enough making this worse?
We are all afraid we aren’t good enough at some level, and this fear can get subconsciously projected into every experience we have. You could see everything that happens, as happening because you aren’t good enough. But just because this can be applied to every situation, doesn’t mean it should be or is accurate.
You must pause before responding to anything and remind yourself that you have the exact same value as everyone else and nothing can change that. Your value is infinite and absolute. You cannot be wounded, insulted or hurt, without your participation. So, choose to see yourself as bulletproof and let offenses bounce off. You will be surprised how much energy and charge this one simple idea can remove from a situation.
4. Am I claiming my power to experience each situation the way I choose to?
You may not get to choose which situations show up in your life, but you absolutely get to choose how you will feel about them. You can choose to be hurt and offended if you want to. You can create all kinds of unnecessary drama around offenses if you want to.
You can use this to cast the other person as the bad guy and feel superior to them, or you could use this to play the victim and get sympathy love — if you want to, but you also have other options. You could choose to claim the power to choose your inner state. You could decide not to allow circumstances or other people to dictate your emotions or behavior.
You have the power to feel bulletproof or feel joy, love, or peace in any situation if you want to. Don’t give anyone the power to make you feel anything that doesn’t serve you. They cannot make you upset. You choose to be — or choose not to be. This claiming of your power will calm you down and make you feel more secure too.
5. Am I seeing the other person or people involved as the same as me?
Our fear of not being good enough makes us subconsciously see other people as either better than us or worse than us. This tendency creates unnecessary drama, self-pity and conflict in all our relationships.
But you also have the power, in any moment, to choose to see all human beings as the same as you (in value). When you choose to see other people as the same as you, and remember you are imperfect too, you are more likely to respond with love, compassion and wisdom.
6. What does this person really want and need?
What is the underlying cause of their behavior? Most people behave badly because they are scared, and are desperately in need of love, attention or validation. Bad behavior is not a good way to request love, attention, and validation, but often people do not know a better way.
When other people are behaving badly, if you can recognize what they need and give them love, attention or validation, they quickly become easier to work with. It isn't easy, but you can do it.
7. Does another person’s bad behavior need to be addressed?
As often as possible ignore it, let go and forgive others their bad behavior, especially if you can see it isn’t about you and it is their own fear problem. But, there are some circumstances that need to be addressed. When there is a serious problem or behavior that must change, you must learn how to address it in a strong, loving and validating way.
You must first set aside your need to be right, superior or angry. Then, you must focus on your love for them and your desire to have a good relationship. Then, ask questions about how they feel and think, and listen, honor and respect their right to feel the way they do. Do not agree, disagree or criticize them.
After you have listened to them for a while and they feel heard, ask permission to share your feelings. If they are willing to listen, make sure you use more “I” statements than “you” statements and focus totally on their future behavior, not on their past behavior (which they cannot change). Ask them if, in the future, they would be willing to behave differently. This approach works like a charm most of the time.
The holiday season is wrought with stress, family gatherings and opportunities to practice your communication and relationship skills. Go into each event this year with a commitment to practice being your most mindful, aware and mature self. If you go into each event with this intention, it’s a lot more likely to happen.
If you still have a hard time seeing situations accurately and responding in a mature, logical and loving way, you may want to find a counselor or coach to help you. A little professional help can make a big difference.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are popular life coaches, speakers and people skills experts. You can download a worksheet on having mutually validating conversations at http://www.upskillrelationships.com/worksheets
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