Feeling impatient, feeling cranky? Reacting quickly – then feeling guilty? 

You can change it – try this simple strategy…

Have you ever had the experience of reacting to something so fast that it surprised even you, then when your brain finally catches up, you think “Oh no. I didn’t mean to say that. I’m sorry.” and meanwhile the people you love are left smarting from what you’ve just said?

Worse still, then the guilts kick in when you have time to think about what you really meant and felt, but it just didn’t come out that way. There’s a reason this happens and there are ways of becoming more patient and calm and it’s all in the seconds…

Imagine for a moment that there are 2 parts to a reaction:

  1. Emotional/habitual part
  2. The rational part

They don’t react at the same speed!

In reality, it takes at least 7 seconds for your rational mind to catch up with your emotional, reflex responses. 7 seconds! Anything you say or do in the 7 seconds after a reflex response, is not coming out of your logical mind, it’s coming from ingrained reflex action, which may or may not be helpful. (If you’re feeling worse after an event, then your instinctual responses probably aren’t helpful.)

Simply applying a 7 second strategy can help with better resilience and more patience.

Here’s the seven second strategy…

If you’ve been triggered, feel defensive, angry, super-sensitive, emotional etc., count to 7 seconds and wait for your rational and logical mind to catch up.

Don’t respond in the meantime, just wait and breathe or listen curiously. If someone asks you if you’re listening, because you haven’t responded, you can say, “Yes, I really am and I’m processing what you’re saying so that I’m sure I understand. I just need another moment or two. (Start counting to 7)” Experiment with the timing, you may need longer at the beginning. (Don’t think you can speed this up either, research shows 7 seconds is the fastest time it takes for your logical brain to catch up.)

Once your logical, rational mind has arrived, use it!

Ask yourself some rational, logical questions like, “What is really happening here? What are they wanting me to understand? What outcome are we/am I trying to achieve here?” etc.

Breathe 7 seconds into your reactions this week and watch the changes…

Do you think this strategy will work for you? Try it and let us know, SHARE your experiences.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • I get cranky when I am stressed


  • I am guilty of reacting too quickly all too often so I will definitely need to adopt these practices.


  • Great read….I will have to put these tips into practise


  • Il give it a shot, im quite good at over-reacting.


  • it s just great to read and look at these things


  • Anything is worth a shot! I feel overwhelmed a lot of the time and then my rationality heads out the door in a rush, maybe if i try use the 7 seconds begging it to stay my quick temper will gradually disappear.


  • I used my ‘toilet’ method, if i felt my temper rise over my rationality i would stop and go to the toilet, think for a little bit, then come back to the problem.


  • School holidays. I need to try this


  • Oh I so need to count to seven! I think my rational thoughts are way way behind!


  • This sounds like a good way to answer those difficult questions people just toss at you. Sometimes it feels like they have been planning an attack on you and then I find myself responding emotionally. I am going to try and breathe through the 7 seconds and see how I go. Thanks for the strategy.


  • great advise thank you this is something similar to what I have been telling my daughter when she has troubles at school to just breath


  • Great strategy to use. I’m going to try this today when my kids are playing up.


  • Thank you for that I will try 7 seconds next time I feel cross!


  • I have sometimes used the 10 second rule if breathing deeply before responding. It does work but I am not disciplined enough to employ this technique every time.


  • Great to learn some new techniques for everyday situations


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