Taking a breath 

Quite often when we are in a stressful or challenging situation, especially when it involves some sort of conflict, we react instinctively, saying the first thing that comes into our mind. Often this can escalate the situation, making it worse for all. How many times have you been a situation and then afterwards reflected that you didn't handle it as well as you might have done and that if you could go back in time you would say or do something different... 
 
So, when you are in this situation the best thing to do is to take a couple of minutes out - just a couple of breaths to break the pattern of instinctively reacting and instead finding a better, more productive response. By taking a couple of breaths you may be able to see the reason why someone reacted the way they did or said what they did. Even if you can't, those couple of minutes give you an opportunity to reason that the other person may have many things going on if their life that you are not aware of and that is why they have done or said whatever it was that upset you... 
 
There is a story in the little book of stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber (highly recommended read) whish is adapted from a story told by Stephen Covey in 7 Habits of highly effective people (another great book)... 
 
A father is sitting on a train, his face hidden behind both hands, looking like a picture of misery. His two kids are running around and screaming loudly. People are getting annoyed at them, thinking the father should look after his kids better. Someone eventually says to him "excuse me, your kids are very loud. Could you please tell them to be quiet?" "Oh sorry", he responds."I just don't know what to do. We've just come from the hospital where their mum died"..... 
 
We don't know what is going on someone else's life, yet we are very quick to judge. Perhaps by taking a couple of seconds and a few breaths we will interupt the pattern of just responding instinctively and spend less of our lives wishing we could go back to a situation and do something different. 
 
 
 
 
 
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