The ‘three R’s’ is a tool I use in my professional life as well as my personal life: first we react, then we regulate, so that we can reason.
In any given situation we will always ‘react’ first according to instinct and any threat of safety, whether emotional or physical. The problem is that it’s impossible to ‘reason’ when we are in ‘react’ mode, it is important to ‘regulate’ our selves and bring our senses under control first. As a professional (I’m in education) I do this by walking with a student or sitting side by side with them during an emotional moment, the goal is to get them to focus on breathing, or measured steps, get them grounded so they can use their head to talk about whatever the issue in a calm, comprehensive way.
In my personal life, when I find myself angry over something (just or unjust) a hike or run never fails to regulate my system, brings my breathing into focus so that I can ground myself. If I can’t immediately do either then at the very least I can remind myself to pay attention to my breathing (regulate) so that I can reasonably examine why I got angry in the first place and what I can do to remedy the cause, if possible.
Learning to ‘regulate’ ourselves is one of the most important skills we can learn as an individual because it enables us to utilize a higher level of thinking. The ability to reason is one of the most unique characteristics that we possess in the animal kingdom. It has allowed us to build civilizations and engage in democracy. It gives us the tools to overcome challenges in a relationship. It is imperative, therefore, that we also learn the ability to regulate ourselves enough to reach a point where we can reason.
In all my observations of the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, I’ve witnessed more reactionary behavior and very little regulatory behavior which means he’s unable to engage in any kind of reasoning behavior. As a voter this concerns me deeply.
I could bring up any number of tweet storms he has instigated, the 3 a.m. flurry of attacks against a former Miss Universe contestant, the bleak sleet storm about a recent parody of himself, or the most recent sub-zero blizzard against one-of-his-only-somewhat-supporters.
There’s the debate preparation. He refused any sort of coaching for the first and went horribly off topic for the second. The former demonstrates an inability to even consider reasoning as a behavior, the latter demonstrates the absolute inability to regulate.
There’s the way he couldn’t even sit down for the town hall debate, and instead paced like a caged animal. This is not the behavior of a person who can self regulate, and therefore approach any kind of reasoning ability.
Being the President of the United States is one of the most revered offices in the world. It is a role not to be taken lightly, with disdain, or with cynicism. It requires the most staunch of characters to reign in his or her own opinions and emotions in order to listen and weigh any given topic. It demands a kind of diplomacy that is involved in few other occupations – days can be spent haggling over a single word in a piece of legislation or treaty with another nation. It insists upon a reasonable individual who is able to perceive the general as well as the specific. This voter has yet to see the Republican candidate exhibit any sort of reasoning skills such as these.
Let me be clear, because the atmosphere is vitriolic at the moment: Ms. Clinton has her faults. Do not mistake my reasoned observation of the Republican candidate for a blind endorsement of the Democratic offering. At the end of the day however, I will always vote for a candidate who has consistently displayed the ability to regulate his or her response to an issue, and who can reasonably approach any subject, especially those delicate national and international challenges that arise with the office of President.
May we, as voters, each use our ability to rise out of the reactionary mud, regulate our emotions, and use our unique, very human ability to discern which candidate is also more reasonable.
#vote2016 – no matter what your reasoning.