I recently posted a link to a great video on Emotional Intelligence by the oh-so-emotionally intelligent Marc Brackett. Here, I present and explore a very simple yet powerful tool of Emotional Intelligence-- "The Meta Moment". While simple, the Meta Moment is a well research means of controlling our behavioral responses in difficult situations.
The Meta Moment is often misunderstood--it is more involved than merely stopping and taking a breath or counting to ten (which is, in and of itself, far better than immediately reacting negatively!!). When taking a meta moment, we first seek to become aware of our physiological response. We then stop, take a moment, and imagine our best-self responding to the situation at hand in a positive way. By imagining your best-self in action, you are compelled to explore your own emotional, cognitive and behavioral responses, and in so doing, align your thinking and behaviors to your idealized response. Never underestimate the power of using mental imagery as a tool for improving performance! Considering strategies (step five) prods us to bring increased intentionality into a difficult moment.
Explore and contemplate the diagram below. It is valuable to have simple models that help us practice changes we wish to make. Try the tool out. Try it again, and yet again. Remember- trying a tool once or twice is not going to be lead to significant change. We need to preform our tools often in order to experience lasting change.