Respond Vs. React

Episode #586

Do you respond or react to triggers?

Is it better to react because you’re upset?

Don’t let your emotions control you when you’re triggered and stop giving your power away by reacting to situations. It’s time to find a way to give yourself an opportunity to respond carefully.

In this episode, you will learn the differences between responding and reacting when you’re triggered and what to do to stay in your power so you can live from the inside out.

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Doug Holt:  Hey, guys, welcome back to another episode of The Powerful Man show. Tim, my brother, how are you doing, man?

Tim Matthews: I’m doing very, very well. I am content.

Doug Holt: I don’t know if that’s an upgrade from well, or a downgrade.

Tim Matthews: For me, it’s an upgrade. Yeah, I’ve felt content for the past couple of weeks. It’s definitely down to some of the routines and rhythms I’ve put in place, just helping me to be able to be more grounded, and maintain a better perspective on things. And also, I’ve upgraded some of the rhythms in my relationship with Amelia, because I realized that I let a couple of rhythms go, and those rhythms provide structure. So I think of it as a recipe, a few ingredients in the recipe. They provide a lot of peace amongst the chaos, kind of like the eye of the storm.

Doug Holt: Yeah. I can see that. Just so everybody knows, Amelia is your partner. Some guys are new to this podcast. They may not know that. So we just call out people’s names. Like, is Amelia his mom?

Tim Matthews: Yeah, no relationship rhythm in place for my mom. Although she does listen to the podcast. So Mom, don’t hold it against me. We do speak to each other every week, so let’s call that a rhythm. But yeah, I think that goes hand-in-hand with what we wanted to talk about. Right? This idea of being a bit more grounded. So the reason why I wanted to bring this up, I shared this idea with you last week, and it came in response to one of the inner circle guys, and what he was experiencing.

And I have experienced this at times. You’re really good with this, at least from what I see and hear and believe, what you told me. And it’s the idea of responding versus reacting. So, what was going on for this inner circle guy is, there’s a private way that we allow the guys to be able to communicate with us, to get fast, just on-the-spot coaching. So it’s within a walkie talkie app called Voxer.

I’ll share some voice notes, and we can give some coaching and feedback usually within a few hours. So this voice doc came through, sharing his experience. You could hear the tonality in his voice. You could hear the tempo of his voice. You could basically feel the visceral reaction that was going on inside of him in response to something his wife had said and done. Now, what she had said and done doesn’t really matter for the context of the story, but the important thing in listening to him is the idea of: do you respond, or do you react?

Because if you’re going to react, then straight away, you’ve gone into DEER – defend, explain, excuse, react. And the undercurrent of DEER is insecurity, uncertainty, and wavering, really kind of blowing in the wind, not really knowing what you stand for, saying yes to things that might be a no, and so on. There’s a whole host of things that go into that. So what I wanted to talk about, really, was to dive into what men can do when they find themselves in this position, right?

They’re confronted with a situation, and it could be the wife, it could be somebody in the business, it could be somebody else out on the street, right? So I think this has a lot of multiple uses. And I want to give the guy some practical things that they can do, be it exercises perspectives they can use. I’m not so bothered about what to say. I mean, we dive into what they can say so much in the hidden motives technique, and in everything else that we give the men, that the men use to fix a marriage without talking about it. So I want to take this a little bit further. So over to you, Dougie Fresh. Any ideas? Like I said, I know you’re brilliant with this stuff.

Doug Holt: Yeah, well, thank you. So yeah, I do. So there’s different layers to this game, right? There’s different layers to every game, but especially this one. And where I first started, and where I usually first start the men, if they’re just getting into this practice, is breathing, right? It sounds stupid. But what I had to do is bite my tongue, so to speak, metaphorically, sometimes physically bite my tongue, and count to 10 before I responded.

Because what happens is, when you get upset, or someone says something, there’s an instant, visceral reaction, oftentimes. And that’s based on the lens through which you view life. As an example, I could get upset and be like, ‘well, Tim didn’t ask me how I’m doing on this show. What a narcissist’, and go through his whole story about it, or I could just let it roll off my back, just relax. I give Tim a hard time about this all the time, so it’s funny to us.

However, my wife could say something to me. And she could say something to me that hurts my feelings, right? We call it trigger. It’s such a popular word now. But triggering really means it gets your emotions up, you’re ready to react. You feel angry, instantly, there’s a visceral reaction that happens that you want to come to. Now the key is not letting your emotions take over. Right, you want to be in control.

And one way to be in control is to count to 10. Hold your breath, count to 10. Just be there. Be there with your thoughts and your feelings. Now, what you want to do is take deep breaths, very important. When I did this, this is years ago, but I remember a distinct time that I did this, early in my journey. It’s so funny that it brings me back every time I share it with guys. I did four seconds in, four seconds hold, four seconds out, four seconds hold, for 10 seconds.

10 breaths. It wasn’t 10 seconds, 10 breaths. So, a long time, which creates a long gap of silence as well. And almost every time, my wife would continue to talk. So, that’s when you kind of learned this whole idea of emptying our berries. Right? I’m starting to put things together at this point in my journey. Okay, she’s emptying. Also, what happens a lot here is, I get more information.

And I start to figure out things. Oh, maybe what I thought she meant isn’t what she meant. She’s not actually upset at me. She’s upset because she hasn’t seen her family, and she’s scared because her family is getting older. Her mother is getting older. My wife now is scared. She’s not attacking me, but she’s scared. Now I told the story to a group of guys just the other day. I was out trick or treating for Halloween. My kids, I got a two-year-old and a five-year-old.

All of a sudden, this woman runs up, grabs a kid and just starts screaming at him. I’m talking spit coming out of her mouth, screaming at him. This kid had to be 10 or 11. Somewhere around that area. And instantly, as a man, a parent, as a father, you have this visceral reaction to go defend this kid. Right? It became almost instantly clear that it was his mom. She was yelling at him. And then it became very clear, she was scared shitless.

You see, we were out trick or treating and the town I live in. And there were 1000s of people out. Mostly locals, it’s a small town, but there are other people out, busy street. And this kid had been missing for an hour. And there were 20 or so people out there looking for him. His mom thought he had been abducted for an hour. So, she was scared. And she reacted. And she reacted in a way that I’m sure she is not happy about. I’m sure none of us would be.

And a lot of us, as fathers and parents, have done that. But the point being is, you want to know the context behind the situation. And if you’re reacting, you lose that edge, you lose that ability. So what I’ve learned is, first step is to breathe. Take some time, let your emotions cool down. Now, you could be right. Your initial reaction could be right. But reacting being part of that DEER – the R is react – that takes you out of the game. It takes you out completely.

When you respond, you’re using what we teach, called engaged indifference. I’m engaged in what you have to say, I’m engaged in the moment, I’m here, I’m not turning into my phone, looking to see who’s calling who’s texting me while you’re speaking. I’m not just hearing the words you’re saying, but I’m actually listening to what you’re saying. I think 5% of communication is verbal.

The rest are the nonverbal cues, the tonality, what’s behind the message. If I’m engaged, but if I’m indifferent of the outcome, or indifferent of the emotional response, now we can have a conversation. I can draw more out of you. And I can actually get to the depths of this conversation. And that is, for most marriages, and most business communication – that’s the sweet spot to be in. Not easy. It’s a bit of a stoic approach. The first step, the first part of their journey is, you got to breathe.

Tim Matthews: Yep, I agree. Because, to your point, there is a visceral reaction. They’ll feel it.  The stomach will tighten the breath or shorten, they may begin to frown. They may then hold the breath because they’re wrapped up. And all of a sudden, something comes out, which is the reaction. So I’m with you.

Doug Holt: Well, it’s not only that, let me jump in here. When you feel this visceral reaction, the person you’re communicating feels it too, especially if it’s a woman in her feminine energy, she’s gonna feel it. Just like you could tell, if you’ve ever had a conversation with a friend, or in a business situation, where you’re angry, or they’re angry, you can feel it. Even if they’re trying to play it off. You’re like, that guy’s pissed.

Like, you just know, right? As much as that person is trying to hide it. Now, your wife, if we’re talking about women in particular, she’s gonna feel at 10x, or 100x. Your energy goes in the door before you do, guys. Men pick that up, but women definitely. They have a radar for this, right? It’s a built-in safety mechanism for women. So, they feel it. So, you have to be in control, rather than just biting your tongue. So if you’re feeling the tension, she’s also going to feel the tension. And if trying to speak, that means you’re not listening. Right, you’re just trying to get a word in edgewise.

Tim Matthews: The practice I’m gonna throw out there- So breathing is the first one. The second one is when we give the guys, as part of their Alpha Rise and Shine, more of an advanced version, really, especially the guys that are either in the Brotherhood, the Inner Circle, or have been to an Alpha Reset. I recently did a masterclass for the guys in the Brotherhood on grounded masculinity. And in essence, the premise of all that is – what you think in your mind, you feel in your body.

And essentially, in order for you to experience all the amount of joy, for example, that there is to experience, you also get to allow yourself to express the sadness that you may be holding on to, the frustration, the anger and so on. And as men, we’ve become so conditioned to be afraid of our anger, even though an element of it is a very healthy response to somebody overstepping the mark, right?

It doesn’t mean you go straight from zero to 10 and it results in a fight, but you being able to feel that level of anger rising inside of you and take a stand for what’s important to you is important, because it’s communicated in your tonality, and your body language, and so on and so forth, and people know, then, that this is very firm and clear no.

So, anyway, one of the things you can do if you find yourself getting triggered, and you find yourself reacting more than you’d like, and you want to respond more, then part of that might be because what is being said to you is triggering something inside of you that you believe to be true about yourself, or it could be triggering some emotion inside of you that you haven’t dealt with. You get to express and release.

So, there are various things you can do to do this, but to keep it simple, as part of your Alpha Rise and Shine, if you guys are doing that – if you’re new to the show, then it’s a morning ritual that the men use in the Activation Method. It’s part of the Live As A King system. And similar to breathing. If you were to imagine Doug’s box breathing, if you were to include this practice into your morning routine, the way it works for me and the guys that went through the masterclass is kind of a hybrid between box breathing, Wim Hof, and some primal movement and sound.

I will say screaming. I mean, screaming does sometimes happen. But sound. Giving yourself a space where you’re able to actually express, vocalize. And that could be shouts, moans, swearing, words, it could be whatever it may be. And they would come on the exhale. So you’d have a very full inhale through your nose, fill up your belly, your chest, your ribcage, slowly inhale. And then, on the exhale, breathe out through your mouth, soft jaw.

And by the end of the exhale, that’s where you can- usually some noise will come up. And when you give yourself permission to express that noise, it can be very cathartic. Now, obviously, disclaimer, don’t try that at home, per se. If you want to find out more, have a look at it. You could go and Google. In fact, there’s a great book, Just Breathe, by a guy called Dan Brule. He has about 21 different practices in there, and some of them incorporate a little bit of this.

But the key difference would be the vocalization. And just play with it and see, see how that helps in the morning. But giving yourself that space to really go to those places and open up can lead to contentment, it can lead to a lot more peace. And then, as a result, it’s much easier for you to be confronted with somebody who may be erratic or angry or whatever it may be, and continue to remain grounded.

Doug Holt: I think, for me, you know, once I got to the point where I could just hold my breath – because I couldn’t. Yeah, it was hard for me to bite my tongue for that long, because sometimes it’s just like, wait a minute, what you’re saying is wrong. It’s just full on wrong. Either you misunderstood me, or you misunderstood the situation. Or it’s just wrong. For me, what worked was really just understanding this whole concept of standing in your power.

At The Powerful Man, we call it being the lighthouse. So in the midst of the storm, you want to be the lighthouse. You’re gonna get shit tests, you’re gonna have people testing you and your mettle all the time as a man, especially as a powerful man. But when you can stand in your power, it just washes right off you. This is not a dialogue, or something you have to say, or something you have to do, it’s just the access of power within you.

What we teach is, live from the inside out versus the outside in. And that’s really the key component here. Because when you can stand in your power, my wife, who I love dearly, can come at me like a storm or what have you, saying all of the meanest things in the world. And it’s almost like she’s like my two-year-old daughter saying those things. Sure, they could still hurt. But they don’t hold power over me.

And early on in my marriage, that was one of my problems, what my wife thought and said had power over me. I give her too much of my power. When you have your own power and you’re standing in it, you’re able to breathe in the eye of the storm. Because when this is happening, we’re talking about responding, or reacting. You’re going to react if you’re not breathing. You’re going to react if you’re not in your power. You’re steadfast, you’re solid within yourself.

There’s ways to learn to do this. Go back and listen to any of the Alpha Reset podcasts. The best way that Tim and I’ve ever seen anybody, and anybody that’s been to one can tell you – how to get into the power of who you are. It’s that man that you lost that’s inside of you, for most of us. It was for me and men that go through that part of the program… Which is a graduate program, by the way.

So the Alpha Reset is an experiential program, you have to go through the foundation, which is our Activation Method to get to this, just to be clear, if anybody doesn’t know. But what that does is allow you to access that man you just know is inside of you, the king that you know is inside of you though, the person that you know has always been there, but for some reason you can’t access. And once you’re in your power, you cannot be toppled. You just can’t.

Tim Matthews: I think a key distinction here- someone asked, ‘Hey, what does leadership look like?’ My response was, it’s not about what leadership looks like, it’s about what it feels like. To your point, when these guys come out of the Alpha Reset, they experience embodiment. The definition of embodiment is a tangible or visible form of an idea, quality or feeling. A tangible and visible form of an idea, quality, or feeling.

So, if you were to be an embodied man, for example, an embodied powerful man who’s able to respond versus react, that is tangible, it’s visible on how you carry yourself, it is felt by people around you. And unfortunately, there are a lot of men out there – and I certainly was one of these – who didn’t know how to be comfortable in my own body. There was so many emotions I had not dealt with that would bubble up and rise to the surface, that would, for me, be the root of why I would react to a lot of things.

Whether the reaction was anger, whether it was fear, whether it was sadness, whatever it may be. It was like there was… So, like this bottle here, I’m drinking out of this- Amelia brought me an amazing tea. At the bottom of this clear glass bottle, there’s sediment, and the sediment keeps rising every time I move the bottle. That was kinda like the emotions I had not dealt with, because I didn’t know how to deal with them and how to be in my body. I wasn’t embodied.

And the key is, you’ve got to get that sediment out of the way, out of the bottle, for example, so it’s clear, and you can see through it again. The guys, when they come out of the Alpha Reset, they’ve had an experience of feeling, not logic. This isn’t a journaling thing, where you journal about what it’s like to be a powerful man, or you journal about what it’s like to be in your body. It has to be experienced.

And this is why when the men go through that process, and they continue to do things within their Alpha Rise and Shine, it’s just so much easier for them to breathe as well, in the face of an onslaught of any kind, or in the face of a storm, or whatever it may be. Because immediately they know, viscerally, just like you know what it feels like to react viscerally, they know what it feels like, viscerally, to stand in their power, to be embodied, which kind of sounds like a fluffy word. But again, the definition – a tangible, visible feeling or quality.

It’s the foundation upon which you can continue to respond. And like Doug said, there’s layers to this game. You can imagine where you can be a year, two years, three years down the line, as you layer in being a CFO and continuing to respond in different ways. And then you create and maintain boundaries in a very healthy and respectful way for yourself and for others. Again, a form of responding versus reacting.

But I think the two to start with, to your point, breathing, I think that’s huge. So huge. And I love what you said about the space it creates for more information to be revealed. And then getting into a bodywork practice, where you’re able to have a space where you can express and get in touch with some of those things. Look, guys. You may not have anywhere to do that. So, if you are interested about learning more about that, by all means, go into the Facebook group, drop a question or a comment, I’ll happily respond to them.

I’ll happily do my best to point you in the direction of somewhere or something where you can learn a little bit more. Like Doug said, the Alpha Reset isn’t open right now. Otherwise, I would just say to you go there, because it’s the fastest way we’ve seen guys experience that. But if you want some more tangible ideas, by all means, go there. Drop a question, and I will happily do my best to answer it.

Doug Holt: There you go. Well, gentlemen, and that’s an open invitation to get some coaching from Tim The Powerful Man Matthews himself. That’s right over in the Facebook group. Any questions you guys have about breathwork. And we talked about responding versus reacting. Just know when you react, you give your power to the other person. You’re telling them that what they’re saying or doing is more important than what you’re thinking or how you’re feeling. So, you’ve given away, effectively, your alpha, your ability to be the WOLF, which is- at The Powerful Man we teach two concepts: DEER, defend, excuse, explain, react. It’s not what you want to be. It’s what got us in trouble in the first place. Versus the WOLF, who’s wise, open, loving, fierce. So, gentlemen, as we wrap, be the wolf. Remember, we’re in your corner. See you next time.


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