Today’s life can be challenging. We have to deal continuously with tough situations, overcoming obstacles, confronting people who have different opinions, intentions, even interests, than you. You often have to deal with people with different mindsets, coming from growings path that have nothing in common with yours. Sometimes those differences create a conflict, a fracture that frustrates you, or (even worse) a discussion that makes you feel anger.
In the end of the day, it’s a natural part of human relationships. There is only one special factor, typical of these cases, that makes the solution harder to reach: these situations trigger you. You have the sensation that the person in front of you behaves like an obstacle, or an enemy, or a criticiser. The emotions can be various: you can feel undervalued, misunderstood, unappreciated, targeted. In most of the cases those are just temporary impressions, but still. In the exact moment you need to solve the conflict, your emotions can play the role of the biggest obstacle, even bigger than the conflict itself. And reacting in the proper way sometimes makes the difference between a clarification and an escalation.
There are many techniques to use while being triggered. Techniques that usually inherit the principles of meditation and self-control, having in common a single concept: you need to create some distance between you and your emotions, either temporally or mentally. Basically, it’s all about restoring the control of yourself. Acting in your emotional peak can lead to a disaster, and most of the situations of our daily life can be solved only with a conscious approach. For this reason, mastering a practice of self-control can have a capital effect on your daily life.
SBNRR is one of the best known practices to use when you are triggered. It’s a smart and easy sequence of 5 steps, one for each letter, that will help you to create the best conditions to behave in conditions of anger, panic or frustration. Basically, when you notice you are triggered, you should:
- Stop: the first step of every mindful practice. Just don’t act. Wait a second. You need to do something else first. Something more important.
- Breathe: the principle of meditation. Come back to your body, just for a moment. Create an imaginary space between you and the element that triggered you. Recover the initial conditions for your inner peace.
- Notice: observe the feelings and the physical sensation you are experiencing in that moment. Evaluate their strength, their dynamism, their insistence. Consider yourself a scientist experimenting the emotions on your own body. Don’t identify yourself with those emotions. You are not angry, frustrated, sad. You just experience anger, frustration, sadness. And it’s probably, absolutely normal.
- Reflect: start being more analytic. Try to identify what is the real reason that triggered those feelings. It’s often about some prior sensation you had about that topic or that person, or even some characteristics of your own self. Besides that, try to do an additional step: try to understand the reasons behind the behaviour of the person in front of you. In this exact moment, that person is trying his/her best, exactly like you. And most probably there are reasons behind his/her behaviour. With some luck, you will even find those reasons legit.
- Respond: take an additional second to evaluate what would be your best conscious response. Use compassion, for yourself and for the other. After that, just apply what you think it’s the best decision, and respond. Pay attention to the word: respond, not react. Your are not reacting like you are creating an effect to the original action. You absorbed the action, evaluated it at your best, then applied a conscious response.
Those five steps can be the key of your success in human relationships. With some experience, you won’t even need much time for each of the phases above. You don’t need to stop the conversation, take a 10-minute break and then come back to that person (hoping that he/she was still standing there, waiting for you). When you have enough practice, you can do all those steps within 5 seconds, which are a completely normal span of time to respond in situations of conflict. Practice is the key: the more you try, the best this trick will work next time.
The goal is not about becoming next Dalai Lama. It’s just about dealing with daily situation in the best way you can. If it works, everybody will benefit from it. You first.