Stimulus /Response

In my Blog on Vietnam,  I wrote about the sound of horns from both scooters and cars. There is a constant tooting of horns, tooting being the important word, like a background symphony.

I realised that it was a different sound to mostly car horns in London, that can be loud and aggressive and in certain circumstances they will be a string of blasts and you can detect the emotion of anger in those horn blasts.

On Sunday, New Years Day in London, with not very much traffic around, a car came close to me, I didn’t actually know what was happening but it suddenly blasted its horn and I nearly jumped out of my seat and my immediate reaction was a strong kinaesthetic response, that’s a feeling in my stomach, you know the feeling of fear and anger and I almost hit my horn in response but stopped myself.

So there’s the stimulus, the car horn and my potential response. The stimulus is the car horn which I received as loud and aggressive and I was so close to responding by hitting my horn angrily, my way of defending myself and fighting back, but as I say, I stopped myself and the strong feelings in my stomach area dissipated immediately.

I think my strong response was about being told off, criticised and threats in my past. Very strong response, definitely.

When we learn to be aware of the feeling we can stop our response before it happens, all the energy is taken out of the emotional response. So the way of dealing with this is through awareness, sounds easy and it is as long as you bring your awareness to the feeling and maybe ask yourself “I wonder where this came from originally”. Let your unconscious do the answering.

What does it say about the Vietnamese people that they are able to use the horns as a useful signal system and not get irate, as we do in the UK? Certainly in my stay in Vietnam I found the people to be friendly and courteous.

Now here’s the thing about stimulus response, it can be used in a positive way. Think about all the ways you find yourself feeling happy for no apparent reason. For instance a song plays on the radio and you are transported back in time to that place and you find yourself feeling happy or a time when you are walking in the park and and notice the smell of the flowers as you pass by and it reminds you of a time you were on holiday and that comes with a good feeling.

There are loads of examples where we experience these sorts of feelings and probably don’t really notice how we got to feel so good.

This process of “triggering”  memories to get into positive states is known as Anchoring. It goes like this:

  • Think of a time when you were feeling good, take yourself back in time as if you are there now and re-experience the good feeling.
  • While you are still experiencing this feeling hold your thumb and finger together to anchor the feeling and release this before the feeling fades.
  • Whenever you want to get this feeling again, just hold your thumb and finger together

Imagine going for an interview, making a presentation or going to a meeting and decide how you want to feel. Maybe you would like more confidence, motivation or calmness. Think of a time in your experience when you had that feeling, step into it and build an anchor which you can use just before the interview, meeting or presentation.

Excellent performance is state dependant.