Help me, help you

My 4-year old daughter came out of the restroom smiling and I asked her quickly, “Did you wash your hands?” Her response was immediate. It was an instinctual “Yes!” Then, she looked down at them and smelled them both just to be sure.

We are all guided by instincts and have an initial reaction or response that requires no thinking. We just react. Kids also are considerable models for how instinctual people can be. They haven’t had time to learn everything and they simply act in their own best interest. They act to protect themselves, even if it is to stay out of trouble with a parent.

Little Jacquie’s first response is to say her hands are clean, despite what actually happened in the restroom. She knows instinctually how to protect herself and immediately answers in a protective way. She’s not maliciously answering, only protecting herself.

We all have instinctual responses to stimuli before we move on to the more rational thinking. And, that instinctual response is centered on what’s in our own best interest and what best protects us. Even arguments are usually the byproduct of instinctual reactions. If you take the time to dissect or think rationally about the argument topic, you usually defuse the emotions and get to a more productive conversation.

All this can be useful in communicating with others, especially others you want to act. If you speak to people about everyone’s favorite topic, themselves, then you can get heard. If you speak to them about their fears and pain and how to “protect” themselves, then you can spur action.