To go through the process of applying consequential thinking, it’s essential to be able to really pause, even when you are emotionally triggered and want to respond right away.
For the pause to be effective, it has to create enough space that you can stop endlessly re-generating the same emotions with your thoughts. Consider this example:
Let’s say a coworker took credit for a project I did. When it first happens, my body is flooded with emotion chemicals that make me feel angry. Research says that it takes about six seconds for those chemicals to be absorbed by the body once they are released.
But I get stuck in this cycle of triggering the same emotional response over and over with my thoughts: “I can’t believe that happened,” or “What were they thinking?” or “I’m right because…” So I keep fueling the anger and releasing the neurohormones associated with it.
In times like this, it’s essential to pause and reset your emotional center before making a decision about how to respond. But here’s the key: the pause has to be distracting enough. You have to really think about something else.
Barbara Fatum from Six Seconds offers some advice on what to think about to sufficiently distract yourself.
The Six Seconds Pause
The Six Seconds Pause is a trick that helps you to regain the balance between your thoughts and feelings. When emotions are triggered and outweigh your thoughts, you might find yourself reacting on impulse versus carefully weighing your choices and options.
The Six Seconds Pause requires that you think about something challenging. This brings in cognitive activity to help you not get caught up in the emotional moment. It ultimately distracts your focus on the situation and emotions.
For example, when you find yourself in a situation where you are overwhelmed by strong emotions, try to:
Pay attention for opportunities to practice the Six Seconds pause this week. Notice the imbalance between your thoughts and your feelings.
In the heat of the moment, pause and practice one of the cognitive exercises described above. Notice what happens to your feelings.
Once your feelings and thoughts are back in balance, consider the options and choices you have in the situation? How might you see the situation from a different perspective?
Plan to share the six seconds pause with someone else and the new discoveries are making.
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