This week I happened to watch a video on youtube about a boy who simulated a fall through ice and gave advice on how to get out of that situation safe and sound.
He gave one, fundamental suggestion to mitigate the initial cold shock: relax.
When we get into an unexpected situation, we usually panic and get agitated, but this response works against finding a clever solution. If you try to pull yourself out of the water with your arms, the chance is the ice around you will break; you’d better kick your feet to raise them behind you and crawl out of the water on the ice. Eventually, you’ll come out of the water safe and sound.
I thought about how often we live critical situations: when someone or something makes us late; when a phone call changes our priorities upside down; when a reaction by a colleague or a family member gets us angry; and so on.
How we respond to these situations is our choice, and in these cases (like in the case of the fall through ice) we have just two choices: either to react or to stop.
Sometimes it seems like we don’t have a choice, but believe me, we always do, so it’s up to you to decide whether to react or stop.
Reacting is equal to panic when we fall through the ice: not only will we do things we would regret, but we will feel worse and we won’t get out of it safe and sound.
Stopping is equal to finding an alternative solution: if I stop and think, maybe I will find a better way out, a way that is good for me and for others.
In my Mindfulness courses this topic is a milestone and all the people who attended can tell you how being able to stop is like finding a treasure trove: first for yourself, because you won’t be running in the hamster wheel with a sense of powerlessness; second for your life and your relationships, because finding better solutions makes your life happier and more fulfilled.