Choose not to participate

by | Mar 9, 2023

Human nature, especially our primal, lizard brain, dictates that we react and respond immediately. Everything is urgent; we must deal with this NOW!

It can be very difficult to break out of that mode. I have a client who says he “runs the marathon” every day. He’s in reactive mode.

Again, we all do it. It truly is in our nature. It’s a carryover from our primitive days when we had to be on high alert. What’s hiding behind that bush? Or if we don’t pay attention to this situation and deal with it now, could it result in danger?

Danger, danger, Will Robinson!

It’s a choice to be reactive or not. I’m not saying it’s an easy choice, but it is a choice.

I personally run into this all the time. Along with being CEO of The Shuler Group, I’m also an artist. I tend to do my “arting” and creating on the weekends as my work week revolves around expanding and developing the business. One would think that I would rush into my art studio every Saturday morning to feed the creative and artistic side of my soul.

Nope. It’s almost a struggle. It’s easier to revert to default activities like email (the biggest for me) or the next task in creating an online course. It’s clear; I have a task to do, and I can get some satisfaction out of reducing my email inbox or crossing the to-do off my list.

Art, on the other hand, isn’t a task. I don’t get any tangible results (or true “business” results) from working on a painting. Yes, I can see results or progress, but it’s not why I do art.

It’s so much easier to react than to slow down, be conscious and intentional, and take action from that place.

Another example: a client who owns a digital design agency had a client who experienced a weird problem with indexing their website on Google. They went from being #1 on Google in their industry to not even being able to be found on Google. My client was notified on Friday, and she had it fixed on Monday. Her client said, “We’re devastated by this.”

Devastated? Really? You found out about the problem, notified your provider, and it was fixed. How is this devastating? Is the house on fire? Is there blood or broken bones? Is death imminent?

It really does require stepping back to look at the problem. (Our lizard brain doesn’t want us to do that because delaying could result in crisis – according to that part of our brain.)

What if you choose not to participate in everything-is-urgent-therefore-I-must-act-NOW mode?

What does that look like?

  1. Pause before taking action. Does this really need to be handled this second? Can you let the phone call go into voice mail? Can you respond to the email in an hour?
  2. Count to 10 and take three deep breaths. This will almost instantly slow down the chemical reaction that occurs when we are in reaction mode.
  3. Step back (metaphorically or maybe even literally) and look at the situation. Is it the emergency you thought it was, or that the other party might think it is?
  4. If you can, wait several hours or even overnight before acting. Often, you might find that it’s not as big a deal as you thought it was. I don’t know how many times I was sure I would have to work into the late hours because I didn’t get everything done, and it was IMPORTANT. Taking a break for dinner or connecting with my husband gave me that crucial perspective. Most of the time, I do not work into the wee hours of the night because I realize the world will not end and I can attend to whatever was so gosh-darned important the next day.

Can you choose not to participate?



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