We find ourselves in interesting situations throughout our day in business! Are you looking for a trick that might help you respond purposefully to these situations instead of “just reacting” (and potentially causing more interesting situations for yourself, we all know that feeling is the worst!)?

Source: GDJ va Pixley

A situation is a moment, a circumstance in your day.

Situations just exist, and no matter how we got there or what happened to us that was outside of our control, at this moment it is our reality. The situation is simply there, sitting and staring at us, and there is no way of going back in time.

Reactions take many forms. We can ignore what is happening, we can get mad, we can cry or run away, and there are millions of options. But we have to respond in some way because we are alive in the world and there is no option but to have to do something (i.e. we can react impulsively, respond purposefully, or choose to do nothing).

And then we have to do something else, and something else, every… single… moment.

And in our entire life, these moments of deciding what to do, and how to respond, are all we ever have control over. One moment, then the next, and the next. For a lifetime.

Wow. Ok but be honest, we don’t always realize we have a choice – this is where it gets interesting and fun!

If we rewind a bit, we realize that before we do any action, if we are quick enough, clever enough, or just plain patient enough to catch it, we always had a specific thought about the situation first.

And that thought is critical. It is the beginning of a domino effect that will drive absolutely everything else downstream for the next several minutes at this moment. It is actually what will often cause the next situation you find yourself in later, and will absolutely have ultimately caused any results you are getting (or not getting) in your life.

If we catch the thought, we start to have some decision-making power. In the moment, I have found there is a quick trick that you can use to really help get started with a new skill fast, just begin to allow yourself to consider the following as truth and then follow the process below until you get really good at catching your thoughts!

Consider this truth:

The heart pumps blood

The brain pumps thoughts

The brain is just an organ trying to keep you alive, just like all the rest of your organs

You are not your thoughts

You are the one who watches your thoughts (if you choose)

This is the ultimate freedom

Understand the high-level process:

  • You find yourself in a situation of some kind in this moment
  • You have a thought about the situation
  • That thought creates some type of feeling inside you
  • That feeling drives your action (or inaction) in this moment
  • All action (or inaction) is what causes results in you life
  • Repeat
    • This is all day long, every day.… you can see how people get stuck in horrible loops and can become miserable and feel helpless and or switch to being aggressive to break the cycle and try to get some control back, etc.

The process in a nutshell:


Practice the granular process like this:

  • You find yourself in a situation of some kind in this moment
  • You have a thought about the situation
    • Remember the thoughts are not you, you are the one who watches thoughts
    • Remember it moves from thought to feeling really fast
  • That thought creates some type of feeling inside you
    • When you feel the feeling, let yourself FULLY FEEL THE EMOTION, allow it to pass through you — sit with it
    • Go for a quick walk, and take several deep breaths (breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, out for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds – do this at least 4 times until you are feeling more present)
    • Think about the thought you had to get here, is the thought reality or just your brain trying to keep you alive (the brain does all kinds of tricks just thinking it is keeping you safe )
    • Embrace that you are allowed to feel your feelings, you are a human being and feel things — this is completely normal (stop judging yourself and embrace the full YOU)
    • Embrace that you get to decide if the thought you have serves you, you get to choose to keep having that thought or to let it go
    • This does not mean you have to now identify as being an “emotional person” or all of a sudden you have to talk about emotions with your co-workers or tell everyone everything you are thinking about (if that is not you, it’s not you- that is not what this is about)
    • It does mean you allow yourself to feel and consider your choices in why you keep a thought or not, and gives you the option to stop blocking the feeling or pushing it down (you know you do it — we all do this unless we are taught a new option, so why not give it a try!)
    • It does mean you are choosing to take ownership and control in the parts of this cycle that are within your control
  • That feeling drives your action (or inaction) in this moment
    • The action (or inaction) is the response you choose (instead of “reacting”), which is the only thing you really have control over in this moment in the real world (outside of our self-chats)
    • Embrace that you always get to choose your response, every moment (read Viktor Frankl’s autobiography “Man’s Search for Meaning” to experience the most extreme example of this)
  • All action (or inaction) is what causes the results in your life
  • Repeat

So the way I see it, mindfulness is really about choosing choice. The act of committing to a belief that taking stock in the thoughts going on in the mind before choosing the response to be put out into the world is a path to a more peaceful life… and more effective responses lead to successful projects and careers!

Inspirations for this post include concepts from some of my favorite books and podcasts:

  • The Life Coach School podcast (I started listening around when Brooke first started the podcast about a decade ago — now she runs an empire of life coaches – any episodes over the first 3 years will change your life as she teaches her thought models in great detail)
  • The Unteathered Soul by Michael Singer (I re-read this and listen to it on audio a couple times a year, it is my favorite book)
  • Byron Katie’s “The Work” and book “Loving What Is”

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