A level 10 response to a level 2 situation is how a friend of mine describes those times when someone flies off the handle for what is seemingly a non-issue. It’s that semi ballistic, totally unexpected, jaw dropping, huhnhn ……..what just happened here moment.
Sometimes that person with the level 10 response is me.
I feel my blood boiling over the person who cut in front of me. I want to explode when my significant other doesn’t come through in the way I thought should happen. I’m ready to shoot off the impressively sarcastic email in response to the perceived slight. I’m ready to plot revenge for being told that the project I completed wasn’t quite right.
In my calmer world, I realize these are probably not real problems or, if they are, they probably come really close to the truth (perhaps the project really wasn’t quite right …). But in the moment, they feel quite real.
So, what’s a level 10 responder to do?
Perhaps I had expectations of my significant other because I was having a bad day and wanted him to encourage me. But of course I didn’t share them, expecting he could not only fix my disappointment but he could read my mind that I needed it also.
Perhaps the project really wasn’t done well. The truth is likely that, deep inside, I probably know it and am very frustrated with myself. Now I have to face it. And fix it. It would be lots easier to defend and deflect.
Sometimes I have a level 10 response when I’m festering in general. Actually, when I’m festering in general, I’m likely to have a whole series of level 10 responses about just anything and everything. Those are times it may be best for me to go for a walk. A long walk. By myself.
But in any case, the problem isn’t in my circumstances, it is in me. It is hard to stop a level 10 response long enough to notice that the response I’m having is way out of proportion to the event. It is even harder to look inside and ask myself, what’s really going on behind this response. I sometimes find it easier to look back at the event a little later, when I am calmer. Journaling can really help dredge these up if you’re the type that likes to journal. Sometimes I am, but other times I’m too frustrated too journal. In these periods, I find listening to music and doing something physical (walking works for me) is a good way for me to begin to redirect my brain long enough to find space to ask the question, what’s really going on here.
The question isn’t will you ever have level 1o responses to level 2 situations. We all are human and we are all going to have these responses. The question is, will you let them control you? Or will you use them as a red flag to ask the deeper questions.