Often we find ourselves in awkward, frustrating or difficult scenarios where our natural instinct is to fight back or get very defensive. This is often later realised to be an overreaction and often causes more damage to your reputation and people’s opinion of you than any other of the mistakes you might make.

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Whenever we are faced with a very stressful situation our body always invokes a natural response known as the fight or flight reaction. This instinctively sees a person’s natural reaction to extreme stresses to either entail an aggressive fight-based response to the stressor or the opposite response which instinctively sees them immediately removed from the situation, aligned with the flight response.

A good example of this with the shark attack on Australian surfer Mick Fanning last week where instinctively his reaction was to fight back against the shark as the instinct that first took over before combatively realised it was best for him to remove himself from that environment as rapidly as possible.

mick fanningNow rarely are we faced with a scenario as extreme as a shark attack but nonetheless our fight or flight response to stressful situations still remains at all times. One of the best tactics I have learnt and now use on a regular basis is a simple three-step process and this strategy almost always guarantees the most appropriate and beneficial way to deal with challenging situations and it simply involves doing the following three steps:

Firstly, simply STOP. Yes, it is as simple as stopping immediately and enabling your body to take control of the situation and act in the most appropriate way.

Secondly, take a breath. It’s this slight microsecond of time that you give your brain to more accurately process the situation before deciding on the most appropriate way to react.

The third step in the process is simply to ask yourself the question, “Is it worth it?” This is a very valuable and powerful question to ask and make sure you are directly asking yourself if the reaction you are about to undertake is really not only the best course of action to take at that time but also whether the reaction is even worth your time and effort in responding in that way.

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We usually find that step 1 and step 2 occur in an almost instantaneous moment of time but it is the ability to start this three-step process in this way that sets the platform for you to work with step 3 in the most effective way. It is this step 3 surrounding the question of whether your reaction is really worth it that will position you to react in the best way possible.

Keeping in mind that we are instinctive beings and often tend to process information almost immediately and react accordingly, this three-step process above can often be very tricky to develop but if you are committed to making a positive improvement to your reaction in stressful situations, then I strongly encourage you to continually work at this simple strategy.

Step 1, stop.          Step 2, breathe.          Step 3, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”