How to respond and not react under stress

We’ve all been there. Someone says something that totally pushes all your buttons to red-hot danger-danger-danger, smoke fuming from your ears, eyes bulging ready to burst.

What happens next determines whether you come across as masterful, or a train smash. Do you lose your temper, yell back, snipe, or go into shut down silence? Silence is not really a better option – it can be just as ‘violent’ as insults in a yucky passive-aggressive way.

The third option brings you to that mastery level. Here are some tips for you so you can be more Nelson Mandela, and less Serena Williams.

This is the recipe for deep Spiritual Intelligence, as Cindy Wigglesworth would define it in her book SQ21: the 21 Skills of Spiritual Intelligence:

EVENT IN YOUR LIFE — YOUR RESPONSE (thought, emotion, speech, action)

Insert a PAUSE here:


With the insertion of a pause you have some hope of RESPONDING rather than blowing your top.

And what do you do in that pause?

Here are some tips to get you started:


No joke. When you take a few moments just to take a few deep breaths, it calms down your limbic system (your fight and flight adrenalin system) and you can start to get your neo-cortex (higher level thinking) engaged again.

2. Ask for help.

This can be asking for guidance of your intuition, your Higher Self/soul, God, or even a trusted other human being.

3. Re-frame the situation.

I do this by trying to look through the eyes of the other person. This can be a little challenging if you have had a particularly emotive trigger. In my head it sounds something like this at first, “what the… is this idiot thinking? Are they serious?” Yadayada. Once I BREATHE, ask for help, I can reach past the Yadayada, into this: “From this person’s perspective, what might be happening under the surface? What is pressing their buttons? What is driving their behaviour? What is at stake for them?”

When I start to slip behind their eyes, compassion starts to float to the top.

From there I can assess, “what is the wisest, most compassionate response?”

Sounds simple, I know. It takes practice. That is how you get to mastery though – PRACTICE.

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