A process I use in my own life and help my clients use as well is a process called S.T.O.P.! Here is a quick overview of the process:
S. is for Slow Down
T. is for Trigger Moment
O. is for Ownership and Observation
P. is for Presence
I love acronyms and find that these 4 simple letters can help you stop reacting and start living. Today let’s focus on the first step, S is for Slow Down.
Have you ever sent an email and later wish you hadn’t? Have you ever shouted back at your partner without listening to what they were saying? Have you every bought something that later ended up in the Goodwill pile with the tags still on it? Have you ever eaten something you later regretted? How often do you react without thinking first? Slow down. Does that sound like an impossible task? There is so much to do and so little time you might say. I can’t help my reactions. I need to speak my mind. But let’s explore the benefits of slowing down.
Let’s look at the first example, firing back a nasty email to someone. What are the consequences of this reaction? You will probably not solve anything. You may have to make a phone call to clear the air. You may even have to apologize. Negative feelings between you and the other party may linger for some time. Now, imagine this scenerio. Go ahead and type the email, but take a minute to slow down. Save it as a draft. Wait 24 hours. Think about it. Revise it. Consider what the other person is saying. Then the crucial questions need to be asked: What is the best thing for me to do? Will sending it solve the problem? Will it make me feel better? Will it help build a stronger relationship with the other party involved? The outcome by just waiting 24 hours is dramatically different. Whether the email is sent or not, you have given yourself time to think, to feel, to respond. Reacting versus responding. Allowing feelings to surface, sitting with them, exploring them and then choosing what to do with them.
This strategy can be applied to many other situations. Let’s examine the possiblilities:
- When you are thinking about making a large purchase:
Slow down. Wait 30 days. Think about the cost. Figure out whether you can afford it or not. Consider what financing options are available or if you will pay cash. Determine whether you really even want it. Many times the impulse passes.
- When you are tempted to eat junk food:
Slow down. Drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. Figure out if you are just bored, eating out of habit, or if you are really hungry. What healthy options are available and how can you support your highest desires to live a healthy life.
- When an argument is looming:
Slow down. Listen to your spouse, friend or co-worker. Thank them for their opinion. Ask them questions. Take some time to think first. If it is a heated issue, maybe thinking alone would work best. Type out your thoughts and see if you can sort through the facts and your feelings. Then decide how you can respond in a way which will support better relationships, create open non-threatening communication and advance towards a mutually beneficial solution.
- When you are tempted to say ‘Yes’ to another commitment you don’t have time for:
Slow down. Don’t say ‘yes’ on the spot. Give yourself a chance to consider if you want to do it, if you have time to do it and if you have the skills, talents or abilities to do it. Set boundaries for yourself and stick to them.
When you react, you lose the opportunity to experience your true feelings and choose a response which supports your highest desires and goals. Slowing down allows you to create a space to think and feel. In this space ask yourself questions. What am I feeling? Why do I feel this way? What response would best support my highest goals for a healthy life, strong relationship and financial success? Sort out the facts from your feelings. Then choose the response that best fits your desires.
Try it. Write the words SLOW DOWN on a sticky note and put it in your wallet or on your computer screen. You will soon learn that you can accomplish all you desire, not by going faster, but simply by slowing down. Click here to read about the next step in the S.T.O.P. process- T is for Trigger Moment.