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Since when does our mental/emotional programming affect our knees? Well, think about what we often refer to as a “knee jerk reaction” – that “no-time-to-involve-the-reasoning-mind” response that we often fall back on when we are cornered, pressured, stressed, attacked or when we even think that we are any of those things.

Knee jerk reactions are the human equivalent of “if then” statements in our programming. Our experience tells us “if someone says or does _____________ then it means _________ and you should immediately do __________ about it.”

Those reactions are based on programming that was entered by SOMEONE ELSE in some other situation. They are one of the reasons we repeat patterns – we experienced that pattern once and, even though we didn’t like the outcome, we learned that one thing will lead to another and we react accordingly. Like driving the same route every day and having one point where two lanes merge into one – at one time, or maybe two times, the car in the other lane zoomed up and tried to cut in front of you. You think “CHEATER, the nerve of that guy” and so from that point on you speed up at that point to keep anyone from cutting in. The road gods had better be watching over any poor out-of-towner who realizes at the last moment his lane is ending and tries to get in front of you, he’s likely to lose his bumper at the very least.

If you want to be in control of your future and break the patterns that don’t move you closer to your goals you have to recognize the programming and when it does not apply to new data and new situations. You have to become aware of when you are repeating patterns, when your responses are based, not on the current situation, but on expectations that were established during another situation which may, or may not, apply. So when you have a knee jerk response you want to ask “is this an old program trying to run or is this a valid response to the situation?” Another good question is “is there another way to look at this?”

The ultimate question is “what response can I make that will resolve this conflict in a way that is most beneficial for ALL parties?” Even though that resolution may not provide as much emotional satisfaction in the short run, it will earn you tremendous kudos in the long run for grace under pressure, for acting with integrity, for being equitable and for being the “bigger man” regardless of your gender. I’ll bet you’ll even like yourself a little better when you lead with your heart and mind, not your knees.

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