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Stop, Drop, & Roll, Baby!Susan L. Reid
How To React Differently
Yeah, don’t you just love that play on words--reactor, as in nuclear. That play on words is intentional because that is exactly how someone feels inside when they are reacting to what is being said or heard--nuclear. Once something is said or done, that spark ignites a whole chain of reactions that feed on each other and then boom--you’re into fight or flight mode. It ain’t pretty and it ain’t fun.
There are, however, three things you can do to curb your nuclear reaction. The first step is to actually understand what is going on, the second is to identify when you are in reactor mode, and the third is to follow the advice of your local firefighter and stop, drop, and roll, baby!
Here’s how people talk about the difference between a reaction and a response:
The difference between react and response is pretty black and white. We all know, by how our body responds, when we are in reaction mode: our gut clenches, chest constricts, breathing gets shallow, jaw gets tense, blood pressure increases, and our face gets red. Sometimes, even our fists clench as our body gets ready for fight or flight. While that may be appropriate when an actual, real threat is at hand, in most instances when conversations get heated, the threat is perceived. After all folks . . . words don’t kill, people do.
What Is A Reaction?
Probably the most important thing to understand about a reaction is that when we re-act, we are re-acting something from our past that is still unresolved and causing us pain. Often called “hot buttons,” when these points of pain are activated, we very quickly move out of calm, rational self, and into an automatic fight or flight mode. When this happens, you can bet that at the heart of the matter is an unresolved pain that is being re-activated. The defensive, reactionary response is just a way of protecting that piece that is being re-activated. It’s rather like putting a thick, 10-ply steel bandage over a little cut in order to protect it from getting bumped. It’s a re-action that is out of proportion to both the original activating event, and the present issue.
Top 10 Ways To Identify If You Are Reacting Or Responding
Once you are able to identify when you are in re-action mode, the next step is to stop, drop, and roll. Fire fighters have long espouse this strategy when talking with people about what to do if they find their clothes on fire, and it is good advice when you feel your five-alarm bell go off, too. Here’s how it works:
Stop, Drop, and Roll
3 Tips To Consider While Rolling
Be willing to suspend judgment for a moment and just listen. This is the number one thing you can do to put yourself in response mode.
By adopting the firefighter’s advice on how to handle fire, you will strengthen your response-ability to deal with stressful situations and contentious conversations in a positive and productive manner. As you skills increase, your sense of empowerment and confidence will also increase. Instead of feeling as if you are controlled by other people and the situations around you, you will soon see that by using the stop, drop, and roll technique, you can be in charge of your responses. Keep in mind that though you may not be able to control what people say or how they say things, you can control your response to them.
© 2006 Susan L. Reid
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