SCL Weekly Wellbeing: Re-contextualisation – Respond rather than React

June 28, 2020

It sounds like a simple concept, but re-contextualisation is a powerful practice.

We previously talked about the importance of being present in the moment. Re-contextualisation can only occur during this moment. Instead of reacting using your subconscious mind running on autopilot, it’s important to interrupt the process so that we have enough space and time to question our old way of interpreting the events and circumstances in our life so we can instead consciously choose to respond in order to change.

This week, we are going to get started at the level of our feelings. Many of us have not developed the skill of observing our minds in order to catch negative thoughts as they arise. It happens so fast, and we have become so used to our thoughts that we don’t even notice them as separate. Infact, we sometimes identify with them. For this reason, it’s easier to start by focusing on trying to become aware of your feelings.

Feelings begin their journey as thoughts, so we can embody our experience based on our perception of what we just experienced. In this article, we are essentially reverse engineering this process.

Fortunately, feelings are easily identified. Perhaps next time you find yourself in a situation that you are perceiving to be challenging and stressful, we invite you to use those uncomfortable feelings as a trigger to become present in the moment and observe your mind; the physical sensations in your body. Once you are present, you have the ability to observe what is going on and change the direction of focus.

Common mind-narratives (based on concern) include “what’s wrong with this?”, “what are the implications of this for me now and in the future?”, “will I be judged for this?” or “what happened and who’s at fault?”. They arise because we are fearful it will happen, and its implications. This reaction is being driven on a much deeper level of survival and is the reason it triggers us into a sympathetic fight, flight or freeze mode.

Once you notice you’ve been triggered, consciously choose not to resist or judge the thoughts arising, but observe them and accept they are there. When you resist thoughts or feelings, you amplify and increase their energy. Otherwise, they subside and fall away. You may also like to notice the physical sensations in your body (for example, stomach pain or a sore head). By doing this, you equip yourself to spot these situations faster when they next occur.

Here are some new questions to ask yourself next time you experience a challenging situation:

  • “What’s really going on right now?”
  • “What’s positive about this moment right now, that I haven’t yet noticed?”
  • “How can this actually benefit me?”
  • “How can I learn and grow from this?”
  • “What can I be grateful for in this moment right now, that I haven’t yet noticed?”

If you struggle to answer these questions in the moment, it can be useful to run through the situation and questions with another person, who may be able to help you see through the “red mist”.

These questions work so well because they break our traditional way of thinking. They guide you to scan for positive things, rather than negativity and due to being so long, the question interrupts the momentum of your old negative cycle of thinking. The questions keep you in a continual process of scanning for positives, as it tells your brain that there are more positives to find and they direct your focus into the present moment, anchoring you there. It sounds like a painful process, but with practice can be achieved within milliseconds. It takes a lot of focussed, conscious concentration to start off with, however through repetition it becomes your new way of thinking and responding to a situation, rather than reacting.

SCL Weekly Wellbeing is created by Nick Watson and Gary Waters. #SCLweeklywellbeing

Unlike most Legal Technology entrepreneurs, Nick Watson comes from a development background with a history of developing large, bespoke projects for a variety of industries including the Law. Launching in April 2016, Nick co-founded Ruby Datum, a user experience-driven, pioneering Virtual Data Room company. He also has a passion for wellbeing and is working towards a vision of a more mindful legal industry.

Gary Waters is a respected coach and entrepreneur. Gary’s background includes building a #1 ranking hospitality business in one of the UK’s most competitive tourism markets in the South West of England. Gary decided to sell that business so that he could channel all his energy and focus into his passion, which is helping people through coaching. Gary specialises in helping clients develop an Empowered Mindset, which enables them to navigate life’s challenges on their own terms. He’s passionate about helping people create a life of purpose and fulfilment through Personal Coaching, Business Coaching and Consulting programmes.

Also see:
SCL Weekly Wellbeing:
SCL Weekly Wellbeing: The Ultimate Life Hack:
SCL Weekly Wellbeing: The Cold Shower:
SCL Weekly Wellbeing: The Ultimate Skill – Where do you spend most of your day?
SCL Weekly Wellbeing: Happiness vs Fulfilment
SCL Weekly Wellbeing: What Are You Really Chasing?
SCL Weekly Wellbeing: The 21 Day Focus Challenge
SCL Weekly Wellbeing: How Can You Encourage Someone To Be More Present?

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