Having Issues? Use the Three R's: Rethink, Relax, Refocus

Reality Check Quiz

Life happens to all of us. We get up in the morning hoping for something better for ourselves and our loved ones. In spite of our best efforts, there are things that go wrong. We feel frustrated and discouraged. The questions in the Reality Check Quiz help us to take our "emotional temperature" to find out if we are in need of some intervention. Attitudes, habits, and reactions are measured (NOTE: the questions, responses, and measurements are purely the opinion of the author and do not represent scientifically based research).

Once we find out where we are at, we can employ the three R's: Rethink, Relax, and Refocus to help us get back on track. Employing strategies to re-gain or keep our emotional health pays big dividends; whether at home, school, or in the workplace. We are only as good as our emotional health!

Having issues?

We all have our difficult moments. It is a part of life that we cannot escape.
We all have our difficult moments. It is a part of life that we cannot escape. | Source

Ask Yourself:

What is happening?

What am I feeling?

What am I thinking of doing?

What are the consequences if I do it?

Is that really what I want?

Is there something better I could do instead?

Step One: Rethink

Once we realize that intervention is needed, it is time to rethink. The "Ask Yourself" questions in the blue section are designed to identify and correct issues that may lead to irrational thinking, should they be allowed to continue. Keep answers simple and put down the first thing that comes to mind. Be totally honest.

If we haven't been truthful, we end up with ridiculous responses that make no sense and are useless. When this happens, we simply wad up the paper and throw it away. This allows us to release the frustrations and give ourselves a little pep talk. Then, we ask ourselves "What is really happening?" "What am I really feeling?" What am I really thinking about doing?" Then the rest of the answers are meaningful and we are able to get a handle on our emotions.

Take time to rethink

Taking the time to rethink gives us the opportunity to reign in our out of control emotions.
Taking the time to rethink gives us the opportunity to reign in our out of control emotions. | Source

Ways to Relax

There are many ways to relax:

  • Take ten deep breaths
  • Listen to some soft music
  • Meditate
  • Take a walk
  • Sing or dance
  • Talk with a friend

Step Two: Relax

Rethinking allows us to find our emotional center and check the mounting thoughts that lead to distorted thinking patterns. It is like focusing the lens of the camera on an unsettling image, and realizing that it is not what we wanted in our permanent picture stash. We put the camera down, breathe a sigh of relief, and allow ourselves to start over again.

At this moment, taking the time to relax is like giving ourselves a pat on the back. We just went through a harrowing moment that could have been disastrous. Thankfully, it was not. We were able to save face, and perhaps, a relationship. We never know what affect our positive actions have on another person.

Mental work is physically exhausting. Taking a break using the "Ways to Relax" in the blue box allows the heart to slow down, the adrenaline to decrease, and breathing to get back to a normal level. We may feel tired and weary, as well as a need to regroup. No matter what our circumstances, there is something that we can do to release the tension of the moment.

The way to tell whether we are relaxing is our ability to smile and laugh. If we cannot smile or laugh, we are not totally relaxed. Talking with another person in light-hearted conversation may be helpful. Once we can smile or laugh, our minds are clear, our feelings in check, and we can move on to refocusing on the problem at hand.

Find a way to relax

When we relax, we let go of the tension associated with our negative emotions. Our minds clear and we are able to bring ourselves back to the problem solving mentality.
When we relax, we let go of the tension associated with our negative emotions. Our minds clear and we are able to bring ourselves back to the problem solving mentality. | Source

Problem Solving Steps

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Brainstorm possible solutions
  3. Consider the pros and cons
  4. Choose the option with the best long-term consequences

Refocus on the Problem

Relaxing clears our mind of the unsettling thoughts we previously had concerning what was happening. It gives us additional strength and courage to go forward. The situation that caused us distress in the first place is still present; however, and we can now refocus and look at it more objectively.

Problem solving is an individual thing and everyone has their own way of doing it. We all learned problem solving techniques in school in our math and science courses. The "Problem Solving Steps" in the blue box are a simple version. The steps are discussed in the paragraphs that follow:

Identify the problem

Some problems have many facets that require us to differentiate between confounding variables. One of the best ways to identify the problem is to determine what we want to have happen. Writing this down and comparing it with what is currently happening gives criteria for the desired end result. It may be necessary to get an outside opinion from someone we know and trust to help us with this step.

Brainstorm possible solutions

Once we know the criteria that determines when the problem will be solved, we can come up with possible ways to make it a reality. Brainstorming is just what it suggests, writing down all of the possibilities. Computers allow us to do this easily and quickly. We simply list the possibilities, then click and move them around as needed during the planning process.

Consider the pros and cons

Pros and cons are simply the positive and negative aspects of each idea listed. In order to make an informed choice, we have to look at what will happen when we go forward with the idea. What negative things will happen (cons)? What are the positive results (pros)? If we keep in mind that all ideas have some of both, we can determine what would be the best response. if necessary, add a weighted plus (+) or minus (-) score with numbers to give credence to how much affect the pro of con has on the outcome.

Choose the option with the best long term consequences

Taking into account all of the pros and cons, we can come up with a score that tells whether the long term consequences of each action are largely positive or largely negative. We can determine logically what would be the best course of action. Even though we still may not be sure, at least we have an idea of what would work best. Going forward, we can test the idea.

Once we are calm, we can refocus

Once we have gone through the process of rethinking and relaxing, we are able to refocus with a calm frame of mind and positive attitude.
Once we have gone through the process of rethinking and relaxing, we are able to refocus with a calm frame of mind and positive attitude. | Source

The benefits of using the three R strategy

The benefits associated with the Three R emotional health strategy are many and varied. First and foremost, it helps us to deal with our emotions when they occur. This keeps them from festering and growing, two risk factors in the development of irrational thinking patterns. When we are able to recognize and resolve emotional issues in the moment, we develop resilience and the ability to communicate more effectively with others.

Secondly, developing the ability to use this strategy, no matter where we are, decreases the chances we will depend on chemicals and medications to help us feel better about life. We increase our level of happiness and contentment, as well as our enjoyment in our relationships.

The third benefit comes in disciplining ourselves to solve our problems through refocusing. The time spent in the problem solving process decreases significantly when we deal with problems as they occur. Waiting to solve them later means more time teasing out variables, dealing with hurt feelings, and differentiating courses of action.

Our emotional health increases when we rethink, relax, and refocus on a regular basis. We become strong in our character and ability to be effective in our relationships with others. Indeed, now is the time, for your emotional health!

© 2013 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved.

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Comments 20 comments

amiebutchko profile image

amiebutchko 2 years ago from Warwick, NY

Thanks for this, Denise. I am going to not only use my 3 R's, but I am going to teach them to my kids, too, so you may have done some major long-term good here. A very useful hub!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Great advice Denise. I have come a long way in the past seven years, and those times are rare now when I have to deal with issues, but using these techniques, or a variation of them, has helped me greatly. The big issues aren't nearly as big as they once were. :) Well done!


ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

Great advice. +1. I am pinning this to my "Things You Really Need to Know" board.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Way to go, amiebutchko! That is the attitude to have! We all need strategies that will help us be successful in life, and finding ways to be emotionally healthy is vitally important for ourselves as well as our children. Go for it!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, billy, for the positive vote of confidence! Like you, I have come a long way, only I still use them on a regular basis! Thankfully, I catch those issues before they get out of hand! Thanks for reading and commenting!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, ologsinquito! I appreciate you reading and commenting!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

Denise, you give very clear instructions in how to help ourselves overcome issues. Sometimes they happen in quick succession. Your 3R technique sounds like a winner. I will definitely try it. Thank you.


swilliams profile image

swilliams 2 years ago from Arizona

Great topic Denise! Very useful information especially during this time of year. Voted up interesting and useful!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, MsDora. I found this technique to be especially helpful for me. I was getting stuck on the re-thinking phase, and couldn't figure out why I couldn't move on to the refocus phase. When I realized that there was something in between, taking time to relax, things went much better. Now, I am able to move on more quickly, and feel good about myself in the process.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

That is a good point, swilliams, especially this time of year, it is easy to get frustrated with ourselves and others since our expectations are so high. Thanks for reading and commenting.


SandCastles 2 years ago

Very good advise Denise. Sometimes a person gets caught up responding to issues in the same unproductive way. We can choose to act differently.


Sundeep Kataria profile image

Sundeep Kataria 2 years ago

Very relevant in today's context.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

That is right, SandCastles. Many of us end up using the same unproductive strategies time after time, and still can't figure out why things aren't working out for us. It pays to take time and learn something new. We never know when the next time is that we might need it! Thanks for reading and commenting.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, Sundeep. We all have issues in our lives, especially with the new wave of technology and social media. Taking the time to deal with them when they arise helps us to live and feel better! Thanks for your timely comment!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Your three techniques are excellent suggestions for getting under control. I have used these over the years, in some form or another, to keep myself balanced. You covered this topic well and I know many will find it so useful.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, Teaches. It is good to know that these are time-tested principles that people have used to help them gain and keep their emotional health. This is so important in our relationships and personal lives. Thanks for reading and commenting!


mathira profile image

mathira 2 years ago from chennai

denise, when we rethink about issues, we see how wrong we reacted to it. Your hub is a teaching by itself. Thank you for giving us the right perspective of life.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, Mathira. Rethinking oftentimes helps us to see that our automatic reaction would not be the best option for ourselves, or for others. As we take a second look at what is happening, our eyes are often opened to things we didn't see before. I appreciate you reading and commenting.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

It is difficult to do all three at times but you have created an informative hub to help an individual. A useful and interesting idea for a hub.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, DDE. Yes, it is difficult to do all three, yet each step is essential to bringing the problem solving process to its conclusion. This is only one of many strategies an individual can use to help them gain and keep their emotional health. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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