The human mind is capable of lightning quick thinking, but primarily when in a relaxed, positive frame of mind. Do you
remember the last emotional outburst or argument that you had? Did you get too
flustered for a proper comeback? Did you say to yourself later on, "I wish I had said
(such and such)?"
When you allow the emotional side of your brain to gain control, the conscious
thinking side of your brain is suspended. Quick response is easily achieved when
you curb the impulse to flare up emotionally. For starters, exercise discipline over
yourself and be silent when emotionally confronted. This will give you a chance to see how another person
blows off steam without getting embroiled in the process yourself. It will also give
you practice in achieving more conscious control over your life.
Policemen, bar maids and customer relations officers all practice being 'cool'
headed thinkers, because it is their job to handle emotional retorts in a calmer way.
Lack of emotional control brings about inefficiency, non-productivity and little
progress. Like with other things, practice is the key to improvement.
As an exercise, work with a partner that you barely know. Agree ahead of time
that this exercise is only a game, and that the object of the exercise is NOT to get
antagonistic with each other over it. Now let your partner act as target, and you start
bombarding him with emotionally directed remarks, one at a time. Your partner's job
is to keep as cool and as calm as possible, and retort back to you a response as
quickly as he can. A split second of clear thinking is all that is necessary, and soon
you'll get the knack of it. Afterwards, reverse the roles.
If done in a workshop, it might help to listen to other pairs performing the
exercise. Often you'll find a response directed in the form of a calm question will
take an emotional person off guard, because to consciously formulate an answer, the
thinking side of the brain is needed. With practice, you'll no longer need to fumble
for your words. Quick responses will become second nature to you.
One way to get the words to flow quickly when you're upset is to simply read
aloud a page out of a book as fast as you can. This is also a good method to use in
pulling yourself out of a depressive, hateful or lonely mood (but not for chronic
conditions). The conscious effort is so intense to keep the rapid speed going that
your emotional doldrums simply pass away as your awareness is shifted to a cortical
task. Time yourself for speed and read the same page again, but go faster this time.
To think fast in emergency situations is often a matter of life and death in some
cases. How would you handle yourself in a fire, a bad car accident, a robbery or on
a passenger liner sinking at sea? Campers have died of cold exposure with packs
containing food and cooking stoves. Car occupants have frozen to death in their cars
with a half a tank of gas left. People have drowned in 4 feet of water. Panic is a
killer. Determined, quick thinking is a life saver. Injured outdoorsmen have dragged
their smashed bodies for miles and survived. Women have given birth to children in
the wilderness all alone. People have performed amputations or crude surgery on
themselves and saved their own lives.
As an exercise, visualize yourself in emergency situations where you correctly
choose a creative alternative for survival. For instance, after falling through the ice
on a frozen river, you breathe from the shallow air pockets trapped underneath the
ice. You bail out of an airplane and your primary and secondary chutes don't open,
so you cut a slit in your pack and pull the chute out. While in an elevator, the cable
snaps and you grab a hold of the ceiling fan to break your eventual fall to the ground.
By creating visualizations where you are an active participant, you build self-
confidence and establish prepared scenarios in your mind to give you a better ability
to handle yourself later. Even when totally different emergencies pop up, your
readiness for them will produce better responses.