Last week, one of my clients – let’s call him Paul – was telling me about how frustrated he becomes when certain things happen.
‘What really irritates me is that the end result is always the same. I’m annoyed, stressed and distracted. I can’t snap out of it. It’s like an equation: this particular event always equals annoyance, stress and distraction.’
When he said ‘equation’, I had a lightbulb moment where I remembered something I’d read by Jack Canfield.
‘What if we could change that equation by adding another element?’
‘Sure – can we subtract something so it all just goes away?’ Paul laughed.
‘Not this time – we’re going to add something,’ I said as I grabbed a pen and wrote out this equation:
E + R = O
in full, Event plus Response equals Outcome.
Canfield shows us that the event doesn’t always have to produce the same outcome. In other words, Paul can change the outcome of an event by adding in a response.
You’re probably asking the same question Paul did – how do I do that?
Someone* wrote ‘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.‘
So the key to changing the outcome of a particular event is to use the space to choose a response rather than going with an automatic or conditioned response.
Recognise that we have the capability to choose our response. The fact that we reacted a certain way in the past doesn’t mean we always have to react like that.
Make sure there is a space! We need to give ourselves time to formulate a better response. The time you need may be dependent on the nature of the event: the response to being interrupted by a colleague in a meeting will take less time than choosing how to respond to the fact that someone’s just driven into the back of your car.
In that space, step back from the situation and look at it objectively. I took Paul through the emotional body scan technique which he will use to help him clarify his feelings. A third-person perspective can also be helpful. Once we can see what’s going on in our minds, we’re ready for the final stage.
What’s the outcome you’d like to see? Whilst we cannot control events, we can influence outcomes by choosing a response that will lead to that outcome.
Paul is now equipped with more understanding about the fact that he has the power to choose his response and some techniques to help him do so.
Today’s pebble for you to ponder: will you use E +R = O to help you create a better outcome?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
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