As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, November 2005.
We live in a world of stimulus and response. Does the name Pavlov ring a bell? Every thought that you have is an electrical impulse that is converted into a chemical exchange. Each thought has an impact, positive or negative.
Although responses to certain stimuli are automatic, there are ways to change your thought processes and to have more control over your reactions.
Reacting to the stimulus
Think of a circumstance, situation or person that upsets you. For example, say you're buying an investment property when you discover that you have an old collection record. It turns out this record is from years ago, when the phone company made a mistake in forwarding your voice mail. The phone company admitted its routing mistake, but it still billed you for $1,092. You disputed it, and now it is in your credit report as an open collection account.
The stimulus -- just the thought of the circumstance (anticipatory anxiety) -- leads to an internal response of the three Rs: feelings of resistance, resentment and revenge. You also defend your position of being right, which leads to further emotions of anger, depression, anxiety and/or guilt.
The stimulus here is the thought of dealing with the credit-reporting agencies and contacting the phone company. Your brain searches its network for previous similar experiences. You remember that the last time you tried to contact a phone company, you were on hold for 45 minutes. There is no winning in this scenario. The usual route to go here is to be a victim and to blame others, further fueling the excessive emotions.
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