It is the old adage, take it or leave it. When confronted with a situation, and deciding whether or not to act, the choice is in your hands. The challenge is to make the choice that is in your best interest. Take a moment and apply the following 3 steps: stop, think (reflective exercise), and go (based on assessing best next steps).
I _______________________________ pledge to take responsibility for my own actions. I know that I am fully in control of myself and that I must accept the choices that I make.
- Know and review my triggers.
- Lay out on your whiteboard, corkboard, and yellow sticky notes your triggers and strategies (i.e. phrases, go to words, motivational quotes). The power of visualization increases retention and decreases the likelihood of getting tripped.
- Remember that your choice is not based on emotions and impulses, but on clear and reflective thinking.
- Tell yourself that you must practice how to counter your triggers before they rear next. This means making the commitment to practicing when calm, and as often as possible. Relying on the skills being there when you are in a pinch will not work, if you have not gone over them.
- The practice mindset requires setting aside at least 3-5 minutes daily. Decide what this will look like.
- Predict before entering different situations, which historically have caused you upset and stress. This way you are prepared for what will be coming at you and the reaction/choice you subsequently make.
- Remind yourself that whatever it is that you say to yourself, to pump yourself up, to take charge, or to stay in control, the words can be changed depending on the situation/expectation. That is, once the skill becomes automatic, you, the user, can adapt the words to fit the situation. For example, geography class is typically a non-starter. By changing the script, you end up going into class with a renewed confidence and far better attitude.
- Scripting is a wonderful tool. For example, jot creative alternative endings or opposite, positive thoughts to your identified trigger points.
- Posting your scripts (positives: alternatives/balanced/opposite thoughts; self talk). The results will not be immediate, but they will be noticeable when you commit to investing in them up front.
- Daily practicing of strategies. As often as possible throughout the day. The more you can bleed out the strategies, the greater chance that when you are not in the right head space, these thoughts and skills will appear as the automatic or dominant way forward.
- Journaling before bed can be an effective tool. For example, note in bullet format 3 good things that happened that day; 3 things you appreciate; things that were not positive (here you can challenge yourself to find 3 to 5 positives per). This will help you gain perspective and determine if additional follow up steps are required. Additionally, writing your goal for tomorrow and re-reading that goal in the morning is a great way to keep you focused and in a positive headspace. You will come to see that the small stuff will not affect you as much because of your focus to engage with positives.
- Enlist the support of trusted friends who you know have your back and won’t steer you in a good resource. They are a good resource. When the need arises, connect with them. This can serve as an effective checks and balances system.
- Rehearse in your mind what you can reasonably expect before arriving in that spot, which has tripped you up in the past. Practice and preparation will generate more favourable outcomes.
- Practice the act of walking away from unwanted confrontation. We think intuitively that if we do not mix it up, somehow this will represent a poor reflection on us. However, in truth, ignoring in a way that makes it appear that you do not care, can be very satisfying and an effective way diffuse the situation and keep your feet on the ground.
- In the event that you are not adequately prepared on a given day or occasion, try your best to resist the urge to react immediately, as this will not serve you well. Unless, it is a life and death situation, take a 20-30 second pause. This can make the difference between an impulsive reaction (detrimental consequences) or a choice that is calm, well thought out where the consequence is not as dire as first thought.
No one, and that means no one can make you do that of which you do not want to do. The choice is yours and yours alone. There is only one person that you can control, and that is you. Blaming others for your choices is not in your best interest and does not play well. The end result of doing so will culminate in friends, colleagues, and acquaintances distancing themselves from you and not wanting to associate with you because of your reputation. Remember, proactivity is a far better option than reactivity. The goal is to maintain positive thoughts, positive feelings in order for positive actions to occur.
Through hard work and determination, I understand the importance of looking inward and challenging my thoughts and feelings related to what is happening in and around me. My perceptions and awareness level are fundamentally connected to the choices made. Self-reflection, having a plan to counter my triggers, and a demonstrated commitment to the strategies are evident as a great source of strength.