How to Not Respond Uncontrollably

. 1 min read

Let's be clear: the reason I'm writing this article is not because I'm an expert on controlling one's impulses. I'm most definitely not the most controlled person in the world; I'm not trying to tell you how to do it. The reason I'm writing this article is because I want to learn to respond to triggering people in a controlled fashion, Keanu Reeves style, without showing my true emotions at all.

In September 2018, I wrote an article about stimulus and response and how growth lives between the two. And now, three and a half years later (haha), it's time to make a practical strategy!

  1. Practice. If you know you're about to talk face to face with someone who has the potential to irritate you or to extract an uncontrolled response out of you, take a moment to remind yourself to talk slower and to pause before reacting to their words. You can also practice this with people who don't trigger you. In time, after reminding yourself of this again and again, it'll start to come naturally.
  2. Meditate. Make meditation a part of your everyday life. This might not sound like it'll transcend straight to controlled reactions, but it'll increase your calmness and lower cortisol levels, so it'll matter.
  3. Talk less, listen more, ask questions. This will take the attention away from you and you'll have a chance to compose yourself.
  4. If someone triggers you, don't become defensive; it makes you look weak. I realize this might be harder than it sounds, but with practice, it should become easier and easier. Bluntly agreeing with the accuser, even if the accusation is not true, is better than trying to correct them; although being silent and giving them a condescending look might work better as it makes the accuser look stupid.

Most of this is about reminding yourself to do certain things, like pause and breathe. So remind, remind remind... and like with all habits, in time, it'll come automatically.