We all have trigger points! There are predictable behaviors or words that irritate us or tick us off. How empowering would it be for you to take control of your actions and surprise others? It only takes 15 seconds.
Pearls of advice from my grandparents: "There are expectations, there is reality, and the difference is called disappointment." (Aren't they wise?) Disappointment can hurt, paralyze, make us crazy, and/or make us frown so intensely there are forehead wrinkle lines that last for a few scary minutes while we anxiously reapply lotion. What if we didn't react that way though? What if you took 15 seconds to literally re-imagine the scenario and do something completely unexpected? Let's do an experiment.
Your Significant Other said he/she was going to do the dishes before you came home. You come home, and: dishes. You think: "He/she doesn't care about helping out around here!" "He/she didn't manage his time very well, so that must be why they're not done!" "Ugh, well I'm not going to do them for him/her!" These could be some responses (mentally expressed or verbally growled) that you have had or could imagine yourself having.
Which word best describes those reactions: Positive? Or negative? Yes, "Negative" is the correct answer.
For you, which of the above triggers makes you mad/sad: thoughtless words, passive aggression, perceived stupidity, or messes?
How long is 15 seconds? The seemingly self-explanatory answer can also be represented by these things: sending an "I love you" text, picking up a piece of trash on the floor and throwing it away, washing your hands, washing your face with a facial wipe, and Relient K's song "Crayons Could Melt on Us For All I Care" (kind of funny but don't waste the time).
Negativity is draining and sometimes we can start channeling Eeyore if we're not careful. Eeyore is loveable, but can be energy-draining for those around him and if you're watching him on television. When you anticipate responding negatively, STOP, imagine for 15 seconds what would happen if you did the nice thing. When you imagine it, feel real joy or peace about that future moment. Then, and this is a very important step, DO IT. "Nike" that vision. Watch what happens when you don't do that typical, bad thing!
I have done this before and it works. I do not get caught in a downward spiral of being irritated. I do not feel like my weaknesses are stronger than me. I do feel like I'm making positive contributions to other people's lives. I feel happier and better. I might even feel so good at this turn-around that I make cookies for the other person.
No matter how strongly I feel about this surprise tactic, it won't make any difference in your life unless you take it and make it your own positive experience. It's addictive behavior to surprise yourself and others by reacting in a normal, healthy way. There's no end to the difference this 15-second switch will make in your relationships with significant others, siblings, co-workers, your dog, the list is endless. Next time you feel like you want to lash out, stop. Take those seconds to reinvent yourself and take control of the direction of your behavior. If you do this every time, your life will change.
15 seconds. Surprise tactic for yourself and others. Always do the right thing, even when you have a good reason not to do it.
Courtney is studying pre-communication and broadcasting. She is an aspiring writer and enjoys reading books, especially books set in the lifestyle of another culture. She would be interested in serving in the Foreign Service and Central Intelligence Agency someday.