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Cooler heads prevail: All about perspective and adjusting

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Jacob P.E. Dunbar
  • AFSOC Installations and Mission Support
Some people get spun up about the smallest things. They allow the actions and behaviors of other people to upset them, and they lose their cool.

Getting mad is a personal matter, and gaining a cooler head takes perspective and the ability to adjust.

Individual values, expectations, norms and cultures often influence the manner how each person deals with the situations they encounter. Don’t blame someone else when you can't control your impulses. So when you say someone gets you fired up, probably what you should say is, "I chose to get agitated."

Each of us must develop a way to read our personal “stoplight” chart to recognize our moods and triggers. Knowing what color drives our actions and responses -- green means good to go, yellow means proceed with caution and red means danger or stop -- allows us to adjust our approach and respond rationally.

Staying alert to the signals and tailoring our reaction is key here; it gives us control over the situation. If we already know the issues that triggers us to change from one color to another then we can use that to curb our emotions.

As much as possible, strive to be yellow or green. Only on rare occasions, when something goes terribly wrong, should you get to red. However, when you realize the “danger zone,” adjust quickly and restore control. Each person has full control of the switch; getting to and staying in the danger zone is a choice. People and circumstances influence a person’s emotions -- mad, disappointed or sad – however, you control your reactions and behavior. We can't blame someone else for that.

We all get asked to do something we do not like, and often we can’t argue that it does not need to be done. It just happens that you and I are the lucky ones tapped to accomplish it. Poet Maya Angelou summed it up very well: "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.”

During a recent base wide clean-up day, a colleague said: “There is nothing wrong with embracing the suck. Embracing the suck is an art, and it is all about perspective.”

This does not suggest you do everything robotically. It means that when you are tasked to do something, voice your concerns professionally and from a yellow or green attitude status. However, when the decision is made, rally the team and get the task done.

Be aware of your “stoplight” situation and figure a way forward without whining about it and spreading negativity to others. Adjusting your perspective does not automatically stop you from getting to red, but it is a way to stay green longer.

This is an emotion check, reminding you of where you are and what is expected. From there the decision is yours.