What is the choice you make when you are in a heated argument? What about when you are in a situation of fear? Do you even make a choice? Or, do you just react to what is happening in the moment?
I remember back in December, I was on the second retreat of a 10 month program with the Co-Active Training Institute. The tribe, as they called us, was tasked with choosing a partner to do a project with. Some people wanted to choose. Others wanted to pick names out of a hat. I was the one that wanted to choose my partner, although I wasn’t sure who that person was going to be. We spent over an hour going back and forth, and after a while, I felt like I wasn’t being heard. Honestly, I was still carrying baggage from the arguments of the first day. And that baggage went deeper with being the only Black Woman in the room. So, here I am. The only Black Woman. One of the few that wanted to choose my own partner, yet still be fair. And I immediately felt like I didn’t have a voice because I was not being heard. Again, back to some other issues that I had been living all my life. I thought this leadership program was different. (In hindsight, it is!). But, in the moment, all I saw was red, and I was angry and sleepy and FED UP! So, I left the meeting, and I stormed out. The next morning, I had been assigned a partner.
In this moment, I didn’t see what other people were feeling. I wasn’t fully articulating my thoughts. In actuality, I had no clear thought. And, I was completely in a super emotional state – operating from my feelings.
Being at choice, is not only being able to choose the way you want things to go, but it is also choosing how you respond to moments of fear, attack, uncertainty, and confusion. In that moment, on that night, I got up and walked out – but it was from an emotional place. It was not from a place of true choice. I just reacted without ever thinking clearly about what I was doing. A leader chooses who they want to be, and they create what they want in their life. A leader creates their reality. It takes some people longer than others, but once you become aware of how to do it, it gets easier to do every time.
There are ways that you can master being at choice.
- Notice your triggers: Take the time to really think about those things that trigger you. What was it? What values are they hitting on? What are the feelings? How do you behave?
- Notice your body. How does it feel when you are triggered? What reaction does your body have?
- What is your emotional state? Are there any fears that come up for you when you are triggered? What is at stake for you by holding that fear? Is that fear a fact?
- Check your assumptions about that thing. What are you making an assumption about? What is the story you are creating? What is the impact on you of holding that assumption?
- Ask yourself – What can you learn from this? What is your part in it? Why have you created this?
- Make a choice. How do you want to respond to what just happened?
This is not something that you will master overnight. It is actually the very thing that can take years to get. The moment between the stimulus (what triggers you) and the response, happens within in seconds. And it comes with practice that you will learn what to do. Try this out one step at a time.
When you feel like something is about to trigger you, take the time to Pause at the very least, so that you can reassess, get it together and then make a choice.