Mastering Change [4 P’s Method]
[4 P’s Method]
SUPERHUMAN SCORE: 9
Life has challenges built in.
From relationship breakups to workplace layoffs to the stranger in front of you taking 15 minutes to order breakfast (when all you want is a small black coffee).
When something unexpected happens, do you go on autopilot and react, or can you slow down and respond?
Research shows that, in most circumstances, slowing down leads to better outcomes than immediately reacting.
(Exceptions for being chased by wild animals.)
Responding instead of reacting is a method explored in the new book Master of Change by Brad Stulberg.
Today, you’ll get a robust framework for overcoming life’s inevitable challenges.
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Reacting is quick. You feel and then do.
Responding is slower. It involves more space between an event and what you do (or don't do) about it.
When you shift into responsive mode, you can be more deliberate, thoughtful, and intentional.
In a series of studies out of UCLA, researchers subjected participants to unplanned and distressing situations, such as giving impromptu speeches in front of strangers.
Half the participants were instructed to label their emotions. For instance, “I feel tightness in my chest,” “I feel angst in my throat,” or “I feel heat in my palms.” The other half were not instructed to do anything special.
The participants who felt and labeled their emotions, what researchers call affect labeling, had significantly less stress and felt more at ease during their speeches.
As Stulberg writes: “When we label an emotion, we diffuse it. Instead of attaching to it and getting completely swept up in it, we create space between ourselves and our experience. And it is in this space that we can start to respond instead of react.”
Next, we’ll cover the 4-step method to stay cool, calm, and collected (in any scenario).
Stulberg developed a simple heuristic to help you respond to challenges in your own life. He calls it the 4P's:
1. Pause: Take a deep breath or two. Gather yourself.
2. Process: Label the emotions you are feeling. Tell yourself, This is what is happening right now; I'm doing the best that I can.
3. Plan: Now that you've collected yourself, make a plan for what you want to do going forward. Figure out what resources and skills you can bring to the situation at hand.
- Example: Let’s pretend your boss is a micromanager. You might strategize a boundary-setting conversation. You could also start to think about leaving the situation (update your resume, set up coffee chats with people in your network, upskill to pivot to new career interests, etc.).
4. Proceed: Your plan will give you confidence. Only then take action and proceed.
“Responding is harder than reacting,” writes Stulberg, “especially at first.”
Taking a deep breath during adversity is like flexing a muscle.
The more you flex it, the stronger that muscle gets.
Pro tip: Practice taking deep breaths in low-stakes moments. Whether with a daily meditation practice (I like Sam Harriss’ Waking Up App) or simply taking a few deep breaths every morning. You’ll be better prepared to flex your “pause muscle” in higher-stakes scenarios.
BRINGING IT HOME
My friend Brad’s new book Master of Change is chock full of actionable tips to navigate a complex world.
I received an advanced copy (and thoroughly enjoyed it).
Brad is also a member of the System Sunday community, and he’s opened up exclusive bonuses to you all.
If you pre-order Master of Change (which comes out in just 2 days!) and fill out this form, you’ll get some incredible bonuses. My favorite perk is the online masterclass, which walks you through some of the most actionable insights in the book and offers additional tips on how to apply them.
Have a wonderful Sunday.
All systems go,
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