I’m currently reading a fantastic book called 18 Minutes, by Peter Bregman, and one of the things he talks about is tweaking our reactive habits.
Specifically, he’s referring to a habit many people possess where they react to an event, and this reaction “creates an unproductive outcome.”
In other words, something happens, we react to it, and the way we react directly affects the outcome.
This process looks like this …
EVENT — REACTION — OUTCOME
What Peter suggests is, “when an unsettling event occurs, PAUSE before reacting.” During that pause, he suggests you ask yourself a single question (which I’ve modified slightly: What is the outcome I prefer?
(Note: Peter’s question was phrased “what is the outcome I want?” The problem with the word “want” is it can be associated with lacking, but “prefer” is associated with choice.
Peter goes on to suggest that “instead of reacting to the event, react to the outcome. In other words, stop reacting the past and start reacting to the future.”
Notice how this philosophy transforms the process …
EVENT — OUTCOME — REACTION
What I realized is, thinking about the outcome BEFORE we react kind of changes our reaction to a response — which is way better than a knee-jerk reaction, right?
When this is the case, we’re still responding to the event (or person causing the event), but we’re also responding to our preferred (desired) outcome.
In order for this to work we need to pause and gather our thoughts so we have time to respond logically, instead of react emotionally. Sometimes, in an intense moment, it’s challenging to remember to pause, breathe, and gather. But with practice, it becomes the new habit — which means it gets easier …
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