We are most likely to act poorly under pressure. When someone is pressured, they will revert back to conditioned patterns of behavior.
Think back when you fell down and skinned your knee as a child. There may have been someone there with comforting words and a touch, and a touch of anti-bacterial ointment or spray and, perhaps, a Flintstone’s band-aid. Then there was the payoff – candy, cookie, lollipop, etc.
Is it any wonder that when we get hurt as an adult (pressured), that we reach back for conditioned behaviors – patterns that we’ve learned that are indelible. The nervous system doesn’t know the context of hurt; it only registers hurt from the senses and responds with the patterns it learned.
When you are pressured, it’s helpful to pause and notice that you are about to give a patterned reaction. Just the sheer noticing of your automatic behavior about to kick in, gives you the option to choose another way to go.
Like many people, I get ornery when I get tired. If I am pressured during that time frame, it is highly likely that I’m going to offer a patterned reaction that won’t serve me well. It’s just so automatic, unless . . . I notice.
Noticing may cause me to say something like, “Can we take this up in the morning because I’m not feeling very resourceful now?” Noticing that I’m about to give a patterned reaction is often enough to kick in a different response – one that will keep me from kicking myself the next day.
We often make excuses for people close to us when they respond poorly to pressure. “Oh, he’s just tired.” “The job has really gotten her down.” What we don’t say is what is really happening: They are reacting with past patterns rather than updated ones.
It’s helpful to know that choice is available to you, even under pressure. You just have to stop and notice that pressure is about to reveal your conditioned patterns and interrupt that reaction before it comes out to play and ruins your day.
All the best,
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