Stephen R. Covey argued the essence of being proactive (habit number number 1 in the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People) was to create some space between stimulus and response. Within this space proactive and wise choices can be made because of our self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will. While this is great advice, I have struggled with the “how”. Just saying, “I have the freedom to choose” is the easy part. Making some space to allow my inner wisdom to take over and enable positive, proactive choices is the hard part, especially when I am stressed out, anxious, or worried. Happily, I have discovered a practice that helps me make some space and increase my capacity to choose well. I call this STA2R, with the A squared. This practice is based on the mindfulness steps of living in the moment and acceptance. The steps are:
- Stop and recognize unpleasant thoughts (worries) and feelings (anxiety)
- Take a deep breath, beginning with one deep breath followed by another
- Accept things as they are, including thoughts and feelings, with caring, curiosity, and understanding
- Ask yourself what you really want, taking into consideration your values
- React in a positive way in alignment with your values and true to your vision
The STA2R practice is illustrated in the following diagram:
The next time you have the urge to react, perhaps in a negative way, consciously make the choice to pause and practiceSTA2R. To make this exercise a habit, take time each day to practice these steps. Over time, you will catch yourself “making space” and responding in proactive ways in alignment with your values.
To learn more about STA2R and other mindfulness practices, I invite you to read my book “Breaking the Chains of Worry and Anxiety.”
Download a free preview copy by clicking here: Breaking the Chains of Worry and Anxiety.
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