When you commit yourself to one thing, rather than another, clarity is a natural result; and clarity helps us decide without confusion. The following approach enables you to have clarity in your response to any situation and as Viktor Frankl said “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Try this:

1:  Stimulus occurs (an event happens, a piece of information is received, etc). For example, you find out that all the files you have created for a project you have worked on, have been somehow deleted from your cloud storage at work. Typically, this news would bring about instant frustration, confusion, possibly sadness and potentially a degree of anger.

2: Immediately generate pause by breathing in for five to ten seconds, holding for two seconds, then breathing out for five to ten seconds and waiting for two seconds. Repeat this whole process three times. If it is your first attempt, you may find that 5 seconds seems like a long time. Over time, you can easily achieve ten seconds or more. We breathe a lot, approximately 20,000 times a day, about 15 breaths per minute, in our so-called relaxed state. You might think that with all this practice we would be good at it. The problem is, for the most part, we have become well practiced at breathing incorrectly.

As Yogi Bhajan stated in his lecture “The Sacred Breath of Life” given on November 18, 1988 in Claremont, USA: “Breathe at the average rate of one breath a minute. Twenty seconds to inhale, twenty seconds to hold, twenty seconds to let it go. It will clean out all illness, disease, fatigue, garbage, nonsense.” For the purposes of this workout however, we are attempting simply to insert a pause prior to our responses. So, using our example, the potential emotions are kept in check whilst the breathing pause happens instead. We don’t keep trawling through the cloud storage, finding what or who is to blame; instead we just pause and breathe.

3: After your pause, note down your thoughts on the following “Thought Option” grid. The key to the grid is:

  • Responsive: I have chosen my response carefully and considered the options
  • Reactive: I have not really considered all the options, but I just feel that I need to do or say something straightaway
  • Positive: I feel generally good about the situation
  • Negative: I do not feel so good about the situation

For example, a negative and reactive (lower left) thought could be to find out who deleted everything then call up the perpetrator and have a go at them. Due to the stimulus being pretty bleak (a mountain of work has been evaporated), it is unlikely to have a non-negative thought, even if you choose your response.

4: Study the grid, what thought patterns seem to be at play here? If you’d like assistance in identifying your patterns, then try the Thought Assessment Framework and schedule a call with us to discuss the results. It could have a fundamentally positive impact in your life. Either through that method (recommended) or by your own way, write down which of the identified heuristics and biases may have crept into your decision-making process. Maybe you are not so keen on a team member and you are biased toward suspecting him or her of being the perpetrator?

5: If you have observed one or more heuristics and/or biases, what would you adjust on the grid? We can help you with this on a call. For example, if you have displayed a choice-supportive bias (suspecting the person you are not so keen on), the suggested remedy could be for you to consider applying an extremely rational question-set to your thinking, forcing yourself to uncover the real merits of the thought rather than the singular merit being that it justifies a pre-existing feeling. Perhaps list the merits of your thoughts regarding the stimuli without using any past data or experience as a justification. For example, if each person was purely a label ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’ without any personalities or history attached, what does the investigative data show happened, rather than the inclusion of anyone’s personality?

6: Finally, activate or execute the thought on which you have clarity.