The most important 15 seconds of your life

There is a point in our life where we can make a decision about our own actions.

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  • There is a window of about 15 seconds in your life that can determine your future. Those 15 seconds occur over and over again, and your future hangs in the balance each time. So what are those 15 seconds?

  • They occur when you are "in the moment" when someone does or says something to you that makes you emotional- upset, frustrated or angry. Those 15 seconds can determine if the situation escalates, or resolves. Those 15 seconds can lead to divorce, broken relationships and harmful habits, or they can lead to learning opportunities, and examples of love and forgiveness.

  • Here are some suggestions for making the best of those 15 seconds

  • Stop and breathe

  • Probably the most important thing to do in those 15 seconds is to stop and breath. Before you respond with the first thought that pops into your head, take a minute to compose yourself. Emotions have a way of making us a bit irrational, and it can be our gut reaction to respond in the same way we are spoken to. Meaning, if someone is yelling, we yell back, or if someone's tone is accusing, we match their tone and accuse back. You cannot put out a fire with more fire; you need to throw water on it. In order to find the water you need, you have to stop and breathe before responding.

  • Don't let your emotions take over

  • It is really hard not to let your emotions rule your words. When our heart rate escalates, our tempers flare and we start seeing red, it can affect our reactions. When your kids break something you just asked them to stop playing with, we can choose to respond with irrational yelling, or with an appropriate consequence. When our spouse gets mad about something we did, we can either shoot back sarcastically, or humbly apologize. The key is to be in charge of your emotions. It is understandable to get upset at times, but it does not mean we can lose control.

  • Think before you speak

  • One way to get in control of your emotions is by thinking about what we are going to say before we say it. All of us know how our words will affect someone. We know when someone will get hurt by what we say, we know when they will get angry, and we know when they will calm down. We can choose to fight, or we can choose to remain calm, be kind, and use respectful and loving reactions. It may seem impossible to speak with a clear mind when you are in the moment, but if you stop, breath, think about your emotions, and speak rationally, you can solve a lot of problems before they even start.

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  • Speak with love

  • When someone is fighting or arguing with you, the love you feel for them may not be the biggest emotion you are feeling. But that is the emotion you need to remember the most. In relationships we fight, we cry, we laugh, and we love. Fights can get out of hand if we forget the good moments, if we forget the love. So, in those first few seconds when you are preparing your response, try to feel the love you have for the person you are speaking to.

  • If you cannot pull those feelings of love to the forefront when you are in the moment, try thinking of a specific situation, word or experience that really resonated with you that you can use when you are in the moment beforehand.

  • Have it ready to go when you are in that situation. It makes it a little harder to yell, name call, or insult someone when you are remembering the time they wrote you a love note, or brought you flowers just because.

  • While it is important to express your emotions, it is important to tell someone when you are upset, and to have those conversations, it is easy for it to get out of control. By taking those 15 seconds you have to respond after an event that gets your blood boiling, and using them to control the situation, not escalate it, you can build a better relationship with the person who upset you.

  • You can have a relationship where you can discuss and express your feelings appropriately. You can prevent further hurt and frustration from occurring, and have more harmony in your home.

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Megan Shauri graduated with a bachelors in anthropology and a masters in psychology. She is a mother of twins.

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