When the umpteenth motorist cuts you off, you are likely to be hit by a wave of anger. When you stand in a long line and don’t get what you need, a wave of frustration overwhelms you. When your colleague receives a promotion that you thought you deserved, surely a wave of jealousy will assail you. Anger. Impatience. Sadness. Frustration… We spend most of our days invaded by various negative emotions.

These emotions are often “negative” because they make us feel bad and make our plans fail. Due to anger, irritability, or jealousy, we end up doing things that we will regret later. These little experiences of everyday life dull our days in gray, preventing us from feeling joy and satisfaction, and undermining our emotional balance. The good news is that you don’t have to continue like this.

Our reactions are more important than situations

Like it or not, our emotional reactions end up shaping our experiences . We cannot change the situations of the past, but at any moment we face new experiences in which we have a certain degree of control. Our response to each situation will affect the next few minutes and hours of the day, we just have to learn to pay attention at the right time.

It can help you think of emotions as a key in the lock. You can easily insert and turn the key inside, but since your goal is to open or close the lock, you will have to find the exact point where you can remove the key. If you can’t find it, the key will remain locked and you will have to keep turning in the lock, and this will only add to your frustration.

The third moment method

In the same way, in life some situations can generate emotional states in which we are trapped, the most common are guilt and resentment, which in turn generate a cycle of negativity, a cycle that will not stop until we can find that precise point. The ” third moment method ” teaches how to find that point, so that we can continue to use our emotions to our advantage, instead of being at their mercy.

The three moments of the experience

Life is made up of a series of experiences and each of them can be divided into three moments.

The first moment: the feeling

At first, our sensory organs perceive a change in the environment. It is that moment when we hear our name or see a person. At that moment, we simply perceive, we do not recognize what is happening. Our sensory organs acquire and transmit information.

The second moment: the attribution of a meaning

In a second moment, in a matter of milliseconds, which is what the stimulus leads to cross the nerve networks, we recognize that they have spoken our name or that we have seen the person’s face. At this moment, what Antonio Damasio called “somatic markers” are activated, allowing us to automatically classify this perception as good, bad or neutral.

This attribution does not depend solely on the stimulus, but also on our memories, previous experiences with similar stimuli and even on our beliefs and expectations. At that moment the experience begins to have an emotional value, we like it or it generates a rejection. That mechanism is basically below our threshold of consciousness.

The third moment: the reaction

At this very moment, we have the possibility to accept or reject the meaning that our most primitive brain has given to the experience. We can consciously analyze it and decide if it really is so unpleasant and threatening or if, on the contrary, ours is an overreaction based on past experiences that have no relation to the current situation.

The third moment gives us the opportunity to make the difference between action and reaction , we can distance ourselves from automatic responses, understand our emotions and think about a reaction.

How this method works

We cannot influence our feelings and the attribution of the meanings that we automatically give, but we have enormous power in the third moment of the experience. We can use that time as a pause, so that we not only react, but that we can respond in the most appropriate way.

The Third Moment Method allows us to take control and not be victims of circumstances. How to apply it? Just watching the emotion.

In the second moment, our primitive brain triggers an emotion, which is what drives us to move away or get closer to what is happening. We must be able to detect that emotion when it arises. It’s about becoming aware of that emotion before it can trigger an automatic response and connect with any thoughts.

When the emotion is connected to a thought, we think that we are reacting in a rational way, but that is not true. For example, we can feel frustrated and, consequently, think that the person in front of us is incapable. Obviously, it is a conclusion without a solid foundation beyond what we are hearing.

You may be tempted to trace the source of that emotion. It is understandable, but it is not useful because you can fall into an infinite circle of guilt. Instead of focusing on who did what for whom, just look at your emotions.

Don’t do it as if you were an outside observer, freeing yourself of that emotion, as you must feel it completely. You can imagine that emotion as a balloon that fills you. Pay no attention to the balloon but to what it contains.

How you feel? It is important not to rationalize. What is inside the balloon? As a matter of fact, there is only empty space within it.

This does not mean that your emotion is empty space, but this will help you understand that the emotion itself does not exist as you think, it is not something static and solid. Little by little, you will begin to feel lighter, that emotion will “deflate” and you will probably feel happy or satisfied. When you free yourself from an emotion that is influencing you, you feel the relief of being rid of a great burden.

However, it is not something that you get right away, you need to practice. There is no question that in the heat of the moment it can be difficult to put this method into practice, so it is important to practice first in situations that can be better controlled.

The interesting thing is that, as you learn to control this method, you gain confidence and self-control and the quality of your life improves a lot because you stop reacting, you stop being at the mercy of circumstances and you can really choose how to conduct yourself.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *