Tips for Avoiding Poor Decision Making During Stressful Times

A few days before last Christmas, I was in an elevator with a prominent attorney. During our conversation, he mentioned that he is always busiest during Christmas, New Year’s and other times when individuals are under more stress than usual. He warned, “When people are stressed out, they make their absolute worst choices!”

Toxic emotions (e.g. feelings of sadness, hopelessness, alienation, hurt, rejection and the like) and stress can block or dismantle your reasoning processes and the use of your best judgment. It can also amp up the voltage of the energy charges generated by your potentially toxic emotions. Therefore, it is essential for you to do your best not to make important life choices when you are under an emotional barrage or high stress.

In my book, Your Killer Emotions: The 7 Steps to Mastering the Toxic Emotions, Urges, and Impulses That Sabotage You, I discuss The 7 Steps of Emotion Mastery, which enable you to make highly beneficial life choices—free from sabotaging emotions, urges, and impulses.

Here are some holiday suggestions to keep you under “wraps” this season when you are at the company holiday event, family reunion or other hustle-and-bustle:

1. First and foremost: Do not make an important decision or choice when you are overcome by emotions or stress! Always, stop, cool down and “take the pause that refreshes.” Additionally, do not opt for an immediate, emotional quick fix, response, or retaliation. Oftentimes, we opt for these short-term satisfactions, but in the big picture of our lives, these unthinking, emotion-generated reactions are counter and highly detrimental to accomplishing what we truly want for ourselves in the long term (our Gold Ring Dreams).

2. Be “consequence cognizant,” which requires you to think carefully and visualize vividly about the following:

a. The most severe and heinous consequences that a poor/destructive emotionally charged choice can have on your life, career and/or those you love

b. The most positive, beneficial outcome(s) that you will secure because you took the requisite time to choose strategically the constructive course of action

3. If it is appropriate, try to understand the position of the other individual who is pushing your emotional buttons or evoking a potential toxic emotion-generated response. Strive to see this person’s viewpoint. Chat with this person in an open and non-defensive manner. Oftentimes, learning where others are coming from brings understanding as well as sympathy/empathy, which can diffuse and thereby lessen the strong energy charges generated within you by potentially toxic emotions.

4. Another way to diffuse your emotion-generated energy charges is to take a moment to think about all of the blessings in your life. This awareness can help you to cool down from the angst of the moment, so that you are then better able to think clearly and strategically.

5. You should not make important holiday choices when you are tired, experiencing high levels of stress or have had too much caffeine. Additionally, you never want to make important choices when you are under the influence of alcohol or clarity-impairing medicinal or recreational drugs. Your goal is to be cognitively clear and precise when making holiday choices. Therefore, you want to stay away from anything that can impair your cognitive processes.

Your takeaway here is that we all experience high levels of stress and potentially toxic emotions during the holidays. I use the word “potentially” because these emotions are toxic to you and your well-being, if they trigger destructive and/or self-sabotaging acts on your part. In these instances, you want to avoid reacting emotionally in these situations; instead, strategically and constructively choose your actions. Channel the potential negative energies that you experience into positive, life-enhancing endeavors—thereby using your emotions and their energy charges as your valuable allies.

The sweet result may well be that you will make positive, life-enhancing holiday choices, as well as gain (increased) feelings of high self-esteem, self-worth and the core-confidence to achieve your most cherished goals.

By Ken Lindner

(This article originally appeared in Artsphoria, AKH Publications, 2012)