Have you ever observed yourself thinking in the moment?
A while ago I was having coffee with a friend. She remarked that as I was facilitating some community conversations on a difficult topic, that it might be challenging – and suggested that I might benefit from peer counseling.
I don’t like getting unsolicited advice 😉 and I got very defensive.
Why was she suggesting this when I hadn’t asked for support?
As this was her idea, why wasn’t she offering to be my peer counseling partner?
I declared that I wasn’t interested; very uninterested.
Then I did a double-take and burst out laughing because I noticed how defensive I was!!
Then I said, “Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, what is this peer counseling thing?” – and we both had a long laugh.
It’s not often that I “see my thinking” in the moment. In the theory of adult development, we talk about a “subject/object” shift. When I’m embedded in my thinking, I’m subject to it. When I become aware of my thinking, I can examine it as object. I can wonder what assumptions and beliefs inform my thinking. I can ask myself: Is there another way to look at this? Do I have other choices on how to respond?
So, next time you feel triggered, try to hit the pause button and see if you can make your thinking “object”, i.e. ask yourself what assumptions you might be holding, or what story you’re telling yourself about the other person(s). If you can’t do it in the moment, you can always reflect on it afterwards.
Good luck! Let me know how it goes.