It makes sense to realise that your thoughts determine your behaviour. However, how often do we stand back from our behaviour and examine our thinking? I would suggest, not very often.
Let’s take an example. You have had a day of events that have all conspired against you. You were late getting into work, your first meeting over-ran and threw your itinerary out for the rest of the day. As a result, when you arrive home, you are absolutely shattered. Your partner, wants to talk about their day and how fantastic it has been and you bite their head off!
This reaction creates an emotional response in your partner and before you know it, both of you end up in a blazing row or not speak to each other. Looks like a great evening is in store!!
Why does this happen?
The amygdala, the almond shaped part of the brain is in charge of the fight/flight response. It doesn’t take much to hijack it, so depending on how you handle stress, emotional outbursts, bad moods etc are all too common, especially after a day of events described above.
What can you do to change the pattern of behaviour
The good news is that you can do a number of things to change your behaviour.
- Challenge your thinking
Ask yourself ‘how am I allowing this person’s behaviour or these events to affect me’? This question allows you to step back and challenge your thinking and therefore give you chance to alter your behaviour.
- Give yourself time to reflect
It is all too easy to go from one meeting to the next, take phone calls, multi-task etc. The brain cannot cope with all this stimulus, so signals the amygdala to create a stress response with the hope you might actually stop!
Take time out for a few minutes each day, in fact book it in your diary and do a sense check on your thoughts. Ask yourself ‘Is my behaviour matching my thoughts or am I exhibiting my game-face, but underneath stressed as hell?’
- Name the stress
The best thing to do to calm down the amygdala is to name out loud the feelings you are having. You don’t have to have anyone present when you name the feelings, but getting them up and out of your body, will calm you down. Of course, it may be very useful to name the behaviours /feelings to your boss. colleague or loved one, so you can talk through what you can do about it.
To summarise, you have the power to change your behaviour by examining the thoughts and values you hold. This will make a difference to your health and quality of life you lead.
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