The glass shatters on the floor – it was an accident. Your partner did that thing that he/she always do and it annoys you once again – it is a habit. Question is; will you react or retract to these and many other scenarios? In many instances our initial response is to snap and vent – I’m talking about experience here. Sometimes it is best to retract and not step into a battlefield. Avoiding the battlefield opens up our mind to lay down the shield, step back, be silent, take a deep breath and focus. Remember not every action requires a reaction.
Ever heard of the 90/10 principle of Stephen R Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I learnt about this principle many years ago when I attended a communications workshop. Life is made up of 10% of things we have absolutely no control over. However the other 90% is how we react to it. Despite knowing this and trying to apply the principle as often as I can (and I’m being completely honest) there are times when the 10% of what I can’t control spark a hell of a reaction.
You see what we forget is that we have full control over our own reactions. Yet we allow things to get heated, which makes our blood boil resulting in an overreaction to a situation that we have absolutely no control over. A quick reaction misguides us and prohibits rational thinking. Instead, it directs us to defense mode. The tongue has power and fuels our behaviour. Our emotions come into play and we are not mindful of our words and actions. A thoughtless reaction can spoil the entire apple cart and cause an unsavoury situation. Consequently, in that very moment, we abandon the fact that we can’t retract spoken words.
Similarly to the tongue; silence is a powerful tool too. It gives you the opportunity to observe, to be present in the moment, to take stock of your own thoughts and be aware of your own emotions. It also allows you to look at the situation from another perspective, to understand, think positively and be empathetic.
To conclude; before you decide to send that response email, respond to a situation at home, rant and rave due to bad service, want to exercise road rage because the taxi cut you off or whatever the situation might be – take a moment, retract and breath.