We all make mistakes. We all have conflicts with people in our family, colleagues at work, and even strangers taking our parking place. At those times, we may not behave from our best self. Maybe you beat yourself up over a “wrong decision” or yell or say things that you later regret. You may question, “Who is that person speaking with my voice?” or “Why did I even say that?” It is almost like you have forgotten in those moments who you are.
No need to despair, though. There are ways to make amends and ways to remember who you are so that you respond from your best self the next time around. Here are three skills that can give you a helping hand.
The first skill is to pause. Take at least a few breaths before saying or doing anything. Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Widen that space between the car pulling into the parking space that you have been waiting for and how you choose to respond. That is where your freedom lies. If you choose to make a gesture, do so consciously. Notice how different you feel when you choose to think, “That has nothing to do with me personally. He is simply going for what he wants. There are more parking spaces available. His behavior probably gets in his way a lot!”
The second skill is to plan how you would prefer to respond if this happens again, because it will. Take some time to consider the response that is truly in alignment with who you are. How would you like your child to respond in that situation? How would someone you admire respond? Then visualize it happening as you prefer it happens. Notice your tone of voice, your facial expression, and how you feel. Visualize how it plays out. When a similar situation occurs, respond from there.
The third skill is to create an I AM Statement. Choose two characteristics that you embody and one that you would like to improve upon. Write those characteristics on an index card following the phrase, “I AM”. It could be “I AM patient, kind, and compassionate”. A friend just updated hers to include “inspiring” and “adventurous”. Repeat your I AM Statement to yourself every day at least twenty times. See what a difference it makes in thirty days.
Practicing these three skills will put you in greater touch with your “best self” so that you respond from there when challenges arise. You will find yourself being much more responsive and much less reactive. That feels great!