"To deal successfully with difficult people and situations we must first see them as an opportunity to practice defining who we are."
~ Bill Crawford

“To deal successfully with difficult people and situations we must first see them as an opportunity to practice defining who we are.”
~ Bill Crawford

The Neuroscience of Difficult Situations

For those of you who have been following me for some time, you know that I am constantly updating my material as new ideas and ways of helping you create the experience of life you want. I have chosen one of those new concepts to be the focus of this week’s quote and video because of the way it lends clarity to the process of dealing with the old, habitual reactions we have to those old habitual triggers.

In other words, most of us are very familiar with the experience of having our stress, frustration, anger, or depression triggered by familiar situations, such as, traffic, deadlines, difficult people, etc. Unfortunately, what most of us do in these situations is try to change the trigger which we mistake as the cause. However, because these are indeed triggers (rather than the cause of how we feel), and because we can rarely change many of these triggers, we find ourselves feeling even more stressed, frustrated, angry, etc. which creates an increasingly problematic cycle.

The solution that I teach those who attend my presentations, and those I work with as a coach/counselor, is to first identify what is most important to us. I call this our “Highest Purpose,” and suggest that this new way of being represent something that is chosen deliberately, makes the statement we want to make about who we are, and a way of being that we would recommend to our child, children, or someone we love.

In other words, I suggest that we shift away from trying to stop the “problem” (which is actually our limbic system interpreting some situation as warranting a fight or flight reaction) and start identifying a solution over which we have the most control or influence. When I ask those I work with what this solution or new way of being might look like, they identify qualities and characteristics such as patience, confidence, compassion, flexibility, being creative, authentic, etc. Great qualities, to be sure, and definitely what we want to teach to those we love, however, for some, they can remain “nice words” but hard to put in to practice.

This is where today’s quote can be immensely helpful, because putting our highest purpose “into practice” or making it the most important thing we are practicing is exactly what is called for, especially when we turn what in the past we have seen as the problem, into the practice field!

This means becoming aware of those past “trigger” situations and identifying our highest purpose, or the quality or characteristic we want to practice as we go into them. For example, we can choose to practice patience as we enter traffic, compassion with some of those difficult people, confidence and clarity with a deadline, etc. This has us transforming what we saw in the past as the problem to the practice field, or a place to practice defining who we are in a way we would teach to someone we love.

Given that anything we practice will eventually become a habit or skill, soon these purposeful practice sessions will become automatic, and we will find ourselves responding in ways that help us create the experience of life we want without having to think about it.

Therefore, I suggest that we begin to “put this into practice” or look at old problematic situations as our new practice fields, and begin to purposefully practice a way of being that we would teach to those we love. Whether it’s “practice makes perfect,” or “practice makes permanent,” either way we become more influential in creating the life that we want.

~ All the best, Dr. Bill