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Three Things You Can Do Instead Of Overreacting

Three Things You Can Do Instead Of Overreacting

If you look up the word “overreact” in most dictionaries, the gist of the definition goes something like this: “responding to a stimulus with more emotion or behavior than necessary.” Given this meaning, there are two possibilities here. Either you have evaluated your response and decided that it was more than what the situation called for, or someone else has given you feedback that they think this is the case. Either way, if it’s apparent that your emotional expression or physical action did not fit the parameters of the context in which they occurred, and you want to react differently in the future, there are three things you can do in less than five minutes to install a new mental program.

Role Model

Did you ever play the dress-up game as a kid where you put on dad’s shoes or “borrowed” some of your mother’s make-up and pretended to be an adult? Even though you didn’t know it at the time, games like dress-up are actually meaningful learning activities where children mimic a role model and act out pieces of behavior. Doing this literally “installs” those behavioral patterns with repetition. The first of the three things you can do to change your overreaction is to pick a role model who would behave in ways which you find appealing in the same context in which you used to overreact. This person can be real or fictitious. All you need is a mental movie of how they would behave that lasts for 2-3 seconds. Set up the role model in the same situation as yourself and run the movie. Pay careful attention to their way of speaking, their posture, voice tone, facial expression, and their mannerisms. Now play this movie in your head a few times, making sure all of the crucial pieces are in place and that their reaction is effective for you. Feel free to tweak any pieces that don’t fit.

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Rehearse

Now comes the fun part. Just like when you were a kid, mentally act out the scenario with the role model in mind, but this time step inside their skin and experience the clip from “behind their eyes.” See, hear and feel what you imagine what they would see, hear and feel. If something seems out of place, feel free to pop out of the role model and make any adjustments by watching your role model react in a better, more productive way that fits in with the overall ecology of who you are.

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The key to games like dress-up or copy-cat is repetition. Taking a minute or two and really getting inside of your role model a few times helps your brain and your body learn new emotions and behaviors that you’ll need the next time you’re triggered. When you’ve gotten this second part down, move on to the third and final step.

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Rewire

Human behaviors and emotions always occur within some kind of context. We really are not hard wired to be able to do a piece of behavior randomly. Regarding overreacting, there was a specific stimulus that triggered a sequence of thoughts and feelings which led to a specific output. To re-sequence this reaction you’ll need to attach your role model’s behavior, which you have acquired through rehearsal, to a reliable trigger that resides in the context we are working on. So, if your friend uses a certain voice tone that flips on your crazy switch or your husband gives you a look that sends you off the deep-end, create a new movie of that very trigger seeing yourself in your mind’s eye perceiving the trigger and then watch as you act with the same elegance as your role model–but this time it is you! Run the movie again remembering to jump into your own skin, perceive the trigger, and act out mentally what you would think, say and do in that situation now having the new resource of your role model.

You will be able to run through this technique quickly and easily once you try out this technique on a few examples from your past. In addition, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that you can change other unwanted behaviors and feelings by learning from role models in this new and streamlined way. Feel free to experiment! It’s your mind and there is nothing wrong with playing with it.

Review

  1. Think of a role model who does not overreact.
  2. Create a short mental movie of that person in action noticing his/her non-verbal and verbal behaviors.
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness and make any necessary tweaks.
  4. Run the movie again with yourself in your role model’s skin.
  5. Choose a future context where you want to behave like your role model.
  6. See yourself in that context with the new behavior and step into the picture and look out through your own eyes.
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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

What do I want to do with my life? It’s a question all of us think about at one point or another.

For some, the answer comes easily. For others, it takes a lifetime to figure out.

It’s easy to just go through the motions and continue to do what’s comfortable and familiar. But for those of you who seek fulfillment, who want to do more, these questions will help you paint a clearer picture of what you want to do with your life.

1. What are the things I’m most passionate about?

The first step to living a more fulfilling life is to think about the things that you’re passionate about.

What do you love? What fulfills you? What “work” do you do that doesn’t feel like work? Maybe you enjoy writing, maybe you love working with animals or maybe you have a knack for photography.

The point is, figure out what you love doing, then do more of it.

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2. What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?

Think about your past experiences and the things in your life you’re most proud of.

How did those accomplishments make you feel? Pretty darn good, right? So why not try and emulate those experiences and feelings?

If you ran a marathon once and loved the feeling you had afterwards, start training for another one. If your child grew up to be a star athlete or musician because of your teachings, then be a coach or mentor for other kids.

Continue to do the things that have been most fulfilling for you.

3. If my life had absolutely no limits, what would I choose to have and what would I choose to do?

Here’s a cool exercise: Think about what you would do if you had no limits.

If you had all the money and time in the world, where would you go? What would you do? Who would you spend time with?

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These answers can help you figure out what you want to do with your life. It doesn’t mean you need millions of dollars to be happy though.

What it does mean is answering these questions will help you set goals to reach certain milestones and create a path toward happiness and fulfillment. Which leads to our next question …

4. What are my goals in life?

Goals are a necessary component to set you up for a happy future. So answer these questions:

Once you figure out the answers to each of these, you’ll have a much better idea of what you should do with your life.

5. Whom do I admire most in the world?

Following the path of successful people can set you up for success.

Think about the people you respect and admire most. What are their best qualities? Why do you respect them? What can you learn from them?

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You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.[1] So don’t waste your time with people who hold you back from achieving your dreams.

Spend more time with happy, successful, optimistic people and you’ll become one of them.

6. What do I not like to do?

An important part of figuring out what you want to do with your life is honestly assessing what you don’t want to do.

What are the things you despise? What bugs you the most about your current job?

Maybe you hate meetings even though you sit through 6 hours of them every day. If that’s the case, find a job where you can work more independently.

The point is, if you want something to change in your life, you need to take action. Which leads to our final question …

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7. How hard am I willing to work to get what I want?

Great accomplishments never come easy. If you want to do great things with your life, you’re going to have to make a great effort. That will probably mean putting in more hours the average person, getting outside your comfort zone and learning as much as you can to achieve as much as you can.

But here’s the cool part: it’s often the journey that is the most fulfilling part. It’s during these seemingly small, insignificant moments that you’ll often find that “aha” moments that helps you answer the question,

“What do I want to do with my life?”

So take the first step toward improving your life. You won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Andrew Ly via unsplash.com

Reference

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