Start by imaging a situation when you experienced an unwanted emotional reaction or response, which you would like to be different in the future. This could be anything from deliberately going against your manager’s wishes, to taking the credit for your team’s work in an important meeting, or even failing to acknowledge a mistake in your work.
Control your natural reactions.
Having insight into our subconscious can help us to have more agency over our choices and actions. But these traits and characteristics are deep-seated and can be difficult to change or overcome, even when we are trying to do so. This exercise can help to make our subconscious conscious – particularly when we are facing a difficult or stressful situation – and replace our natural reactions that can often be unwanted or even unhelpful, with something that is more thought through and deliberate.
Whatever the situation, go back to it and fully engage with the experience – right up to the point that triggered your subconscious response. Describe to yourself what you were experiencing emotionally, and what you were experiencing physically. Did you feel hot or cold? Did you struggle to speak? Did you feel your stomach tying itself in knots? Did you want to react in the way you did – or did it just happen?
Now take a few moments to clear your mind again. Then speak slowly and describe exactly how you would like to deal with the situation in the future. What would be different about your response? How would you feel at the time? Repeat this as many times as you need, or even write it down, so that it feels natural and that you will remember it when you need it.
Then when a similar situation arises in the future, try to remember how you felt before physically and emotionally before and use these feelings as an early warning sign. Try to consciously acknowledge what is happening and take a moment to stand-back internally and remember the response you have planned.