In the movie Despicable Me, when a cute, lovable yellow minion was injected with an evil potion, it immediately turned into an ugly, mean purple minion. It happened instantaneously once the potion hit their bloodstream. The cure was as simple as injecting the purple minion with a counteractive calming potion. We like to think of this as an analogy to our reacting vs. responding at a moment of high emotion. You are faced with two different types of “emotion potions”.
Have you ever left a conversation feeling like the purple minion? And then didn’t know where to find your counteractive calming potion?
We have all been in that situation at work when we overreacted to a simple question or statement.
For example, after a colleague offers a suggestion that was tried last year and didn’t work, you react, exacerbated, “Are you coming back to that again?” Or someone asks you for the third time to review/edit their work, you react with annoyance, “I have my own work to do without having to do yours as well.”
In that moment, you become the purple minion. You reacted. So how do we begin to choose to respond vs. react? Or as in our analogy, inject yourself with the counteractive calming potion.
Let’s first understand what is happening in your body during high emotion situations. Once your brain recognizes a situation and defines it as “a problem”, it creates a chemical that flows through your body so that you are prepared to react.
When someone short stops in front of you, you experience the emotion of fear (oh no – I better stop this car fast or I will be in an accident). Your body then reacts by slamming on the brakes, most likely followed by some kind of verbal expression. It takes only 6 seconds for that chemical to flow through the body and then it is gone.
So why is it, 2 minutes later, we are still cursing the other driver? And why has the shock and frustration turned into anger and fury? It is because we are re-firing the chemicals by recreating the scene in our mind. By replaying the scenario over and over again (and entertaining the thoughts of anger, indignation and frustration) the feelings build upon each other, and we have turned into a full-blown angry minion.
How do we get back to our nice, polite and composed self? How do we inject ourselves with the counteractive calming emotion potion? The power is in acknowledging that it is your choice.
You can choose to react or you can choose to respond.
While this is a very simple concept, the practice of responding is a lifetime journey and requires transformation. When we are in the purple minion state, it is hard for us to choose the calming emotion potion without acknowledgement of choice.
It takes training and practice for a purple minion to inject themselves with the counteractive calming emotion potion. In our next segment of How to Transform the Purple Minion (Part Two: How to be CALM and choose), we will share some quick tips to practice on your journey to respond.