Don’t Forget to Breathe

You always have time.

When you watch an action movie, the hero always does one thing before going into that room filled with bad guys.

We see it help with their success, yet it is so easy to neglect. 

What is it?


Whenever something bad happens to someone I know, the first thing I do is tell them to breathe.

There are always questions, depending on the level of anger. All of the questions they ask eventually lead to “What does breathing do for the situation?”

Breathing doesn’t do anything “tactical.” It, alone, won’t save your life.

Breathing won’t:

  • Put money in your bank account.
  • Get your significant other to call you back.
  • Stop your boss from firing you.

It’s about your strategy moving forward. Strategy informs tactics, tactics inform emotion.  Breathing gives you the opportunity to improve the strategic mindset by doing several things all with one action.

Breathing helps:

  • Slow down the situation.
  • Take control from the reptilian brain (fight or flight).
  • Increase empathy for the other side.

By breathing, our hero makes the right call. Help yourself make the right call by taking a second to breathe.

The Garlic Problem, Part 2

Our emotions play a role.

Yesterday I laid out the Garlic Problem, or what our options are when we smell of garlic.

There were rational options, and then there was running away  as fast as we could.

You say:

  • “I would never run away from the table.”
  • “I would know they don’t want me gone.”

The example yesterday sounds ridiculous, but it’s a game that we play every day. Our fight or flight instincts always have a say in everything we do.

So what are we supposed to do here, ignore it?

No. I have bad news, every time you just ignore the game, you accumulate emotional debt. (emotional debt is the after effect of an emotion.)  You ever watch someone scream at a printer? That’s emotional debt trying to collect.

We have to reconcile the idea of emotions matter, and they exist. We can’t ignore them, that leads to other problems. We have to connect with them, listen, and then understand that we can say “no.”

Then you can wash your hands, and get back to the conversation.

“It’s Easier Said Than Done”

I hate empty phrases

An empty phrase is a phrase that someone uses to dress up emotion. There is no substance behind it, just a place where something like an excuse can kick back, relax, and spare someone’s ego the hassle of doing something that it doesn’t want to do. It’s a way to make an excuse sound plausible.

They usually come out charged and passionate. When you take a look at them, their emptiness appears, and you realize that you just heard a hot pile of nothing.

One of the empty phrases I hear most often is “It’s easier said than done.” I heard it because I often said it. 

I turn it on myself first

I used to say it a lot. It rolls off the tongue. It felt accepted because it’s the first rationalization I can think of.  It changes the conversation in a subtle way. What started off as a creative conversation begins to move into the world of “why not” instead of “why.”

I recognized the phrase as an out. Subconsciously, it felt safe. What I later came to realize is that the reason it felt safe is because I used it to shield myself from the mental and emotional labor that comes from something that might not work. If I sensed failure, I would turn try to turn it away with word tricks from my subconscious trying to shield itself from the fear.

That mental and emotional labor is usually the hardest part because you put your ego on the line. Victory is hard to quantify.

Words matter so don’t let them change you

It’s on my hated phrase/word list because what we say and how we say things matter. There is no communication path faster from thought to speech (sometimes we can’t even stop ourselves). The phrase “easier said than done” is a way to deflect from the work that needs doing. If you find yourself thinking that, or even saying it, take a minute when you can, and get to the real reason. It will make you more effective.


Card Games and Impulse

I think of our impulses not as good or evil, but as a pulse of possible reaction.

Maybe our minds are like a deck of cards, and each impulse is just a single card.

Card games usually give us more than one card to play. Any experienced card player would never put the cards down and play the next card on top.