We’ve all done it:
Sent the email that you regret sending
Said the words that you can’t take back
Stormed out of the conversation only to have to hash it out later
We’ve all acted from stress. It can sometimes feel impossible to not act when you’re stressed, but it is possible. Not every time, since no one here is perfect, but you can learn from those past situations to help yourself do better in the future. Let’s try to do better now that we know better. (thanks, Maya Angelou)
I’m going to trust that you know your stress signals. Maybe you feel the tension in your jaw, or the flushing in your cheeks, or the clenching of your fists, or the swirling in your stomach. Whatever your stress signals are, you know what they feel like. You know what thoughts start swirling through your head (how dare they, what’s their problem, not this again, etc.)
These signals are your BEST friend! These are the signals that tell you stress has entered the building (and the body!), and it is NOT the time to act. You may want to! Heck, you may even feel more pulled to do something when all of the adrenaline and cortisol are rushing through your body, but you know how that goes. It’s a recipe for regret. Sure, you might feel some short-term relief when you explode on someone, but it’s just that – short-term. In the long-term, regret shows up, trust is broken and teams degrade.
Here’s where you take your power back.
Instead of reading those stress signals as signs that you should act, read them as a sign for you to pause. Whatever you feel in your body or think in your mind that tells you that you’re stressed out, let the signal tell you that it’s time for a break. Step outside, move your body, phone a friend, scream into a pillow. Do whatever works for you to de-escalate yourself. THEN take action. When you can feel your body relax and your mind slow down, that’s the place from which you want to act.
We all make better decisions and better choices when we do so thoughtfully and from a calm place. Give yourself that gift. It will feel unfamiliar at first, all new things do. Discomfort doesn’t mean wrong, it simply means unfamiliar. Be uncomfortable. Pause when you’re stressed instead of taking action. This short-term pain gives you the long-term gain of maintaining trust, being in integrity and sustaining connection.