“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”. This Mike Tyson quote is one of my favorites because, well…life.

Let’s be honest, we can have the best laid-out plans, we can put everything and everyone in place for it all to go perfectly and then…life happens.  Everything shifts. It all falls apart. Those perfectly laid out plans that we put so much time and energy into fall to pieces at our feet and we fall apart with them. In that moment, we tend to either freeze or react.

As our plans ‘get punched in the face’, threat responses automatically come online, activating a cascade of things inside of us from our heart rate jumping to blood shifting to different areas of our body and brain. These automatic responses have been core to our survival, but aren’t always helpful in today’s ‘threatening’ situations. They narrow our focus and limit what we are able to see as options for going forward because they aren’t meant to give us the best long-term solutions; they are meant to ensure we survive to see another day. We focus on the immediate reaction that will ‘save’ us in the moment, but in doing so, we can miss seeing better long-term solutions that could be staring us right in the face.

So what do we do?

Instead of reacting immediately, we can pause to give ourselves and those around us the time to process, reflect, and respond more effectively (Sidenote: I think this should be a practice on most things anyway – I see you, fellow introverts!).

We go slow now so we can go fast later. When those plans fall apart and you feel like you just got punched in the face, practice pausing. Get comfortable saying ‘I/we need a little time to process’ and allow for time to reflect, consider options, examine all the available information, and think before going back to the drawing board. It allows our bodies and brains to ‘come down’ from the immediate threat response and to activate different areas of our brains where we can make new connections that offer fresh insights. There are even little practical exercises that can shift your mindset from one that is narrowed and focused on filtering out information automatically to one that is broadened and allows for the integration of more information (they are fun too!).

Feeling safe enough to ask for and receive the time and space to process humanizes the experience of feeling threat, coming down from it, being able to see things more clearly and respond rather than react…and offers better long-term outcomes.

In today’s world, we often have to flex and pivot. Let’s make sure our next move gives the best chance for success rather than reacting with a narrowed mindset.