When was the last time the littlest inconvenience set you off? Maybe someone didn’t let you merge in traffic. What about when the cafe got your order slightly wrong? And that time when your partner got water all over the bathroom floor. These occurrences happen all the time, but why do we sometimes feel unable to handle them?
Especially in business or your profession, handling the unexpected calmly and logically is a valuable skill for long-term success. This undoubtedly has a huge impact when the stakes are high, but what about when they’re not? Your attitude to unexpected inconveniences can affect your colleagues’ perception of you, your focus and even your mood for the rest of the day.
Author Kevin McCarney dives deep into this concept in his book Big Brain Little Brain. A great read if you’re managing a business, developing a relationship, parenting your children, or simply existing in a connected world. That means all of us.
Kevin explains the Big Brain as the intellectual, communicative and logical state in which we can make rational choices after careful consideration. Are you more likely to tap into your Big Brain during decision making? On the other hand, we all have a Little Brain, the not-so-logical counterpart. When accessing the Little Brain, we might be depending on our more primal instincts, such as fight or flight, causing us to make quick decisions that often aren’t as logical. See how getting mad at the inevitable traffic on your 8:30 am commute might be a symptom of Little Brain?
Our two fundamental choices of fight or flight are no longer applicable in most modern situations we find ourselves in. We have evolved from a deep-rooted sense of self-preservation involving our brain’s limbic system, connecting our behavioural and emotional responses.
We are rational beings now, and it’s not always about clashing with someone you disagree with; or fleeing a situation when it doesn’t benefit you.
In episode 28 of the It’s More Than Money podcast, Kevin continued to explain his views on where we’ve come to as a society full of technology, distractions and quick decisions. In particular, how we’re quick to become ‘triggered’ or, as he likes to call it, ‘activated’.
Triggering or being “triggered” conveys a whole world of negativity nowadays. The Cambridge Dictionary defines being ‘triggered’ as experiencing a strong emotional reaction of fear, shock, anger, or worry. When something or someone annoys you, it’s easy to slip into your Little Brain mode and overreact to the situation. It’s not the healthiest of responses for yourself, your loved ones or even as an example of behaviour to those around you, such as your colleagues.
Instead, Kevin favours the term ‘activated’. Before losing control of your emotions, Kevin suggests recognising the unexpected or annoying situation that’s occurred and instead putting yourself in a neutral frame of mind.
Find Your Neutral.
Before you start throwing blame or counting up the inconveniences you’ve experienced today, take a second to understand the situation from the other person’s perspective. Depending on the case, you might need to become the bigger person and defuse the situation altogether. Your blood pressure will thank you later.
Whether you lean on a neutral word like Kevin – “Okayyyy”, he says to bring himself back into the present – or it’s a couple of deep breaths, taking the time to think rationally is vital.
This default mindset doesn’t happen overnight, of course, but adjusting your usual behaviour into something more peaceful and calm will set you on the path to making more rational decisions. For more tips from Kevin McCarney and his recent book Big Brain Little Brain, check out this episode of the It’s More Than Money podcast.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances, financial needs or objectives. Before acting on any of the information you should consider the appropriateness of the relevant product having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. In particular, you should seek independent financial advice and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or other offer document prior to acting on any financial product or implementing any financial strategy.
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