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Don’t Pick Up the Phone!

Author Kristine Benevento
9 min readApr 4, 2018


We live in a co-creative universe. While we go about our daily lives, each of us is trying to create an experience that brings us happiness. The question arises — how can I stay my course while allowing others to stay their own and not be influenced negatively?

We’ve all experienced it. Our buttons were pushed. We’re holding it in, hoping we don’t blow like a volcano. Do we really have any control over being exposed to everyone else?


Start at the beginning. Figure out who you are and what you stand for. Allow people and things in your environment that support you.

Photo by Liam Welch on Unsplash

Take Stock. Observe Yourself.

· What happens to you when a person criticizes? Do you shrink and become meek? Do you lash out? Do you stand in your centered place and be open to what you might learn?

· When your spouse says the dinner tastes burnt, do you cry, or yell, “Cook it yourself!” Or do you say, “Yes, thank you for noticing? I was a bit distracted and could use some help when so much is happening at dinner time.”

· When someone banters with you but goes a little overboard, do you think they’re an ass, or do you call them on it?

· When someone has a difference of opinion, do you try to find common ground or think it’s them against me?

In these circumstances, are you more apt to be swayed by the interaction negatively?

There are so many stories in our heads that we tell ourselves that have us emotionally flapping in the wind and reactive.

It doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve been reading Psycho-Cybernetics lately. The chapter, Overresponse, Is a Bad Habit That Can Be Cured, offers some fascinating thoughts.


The author of Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz, MD, asks the reader to visualize a person finally settling down and sitting comfortably in a chair, perhaps after a long day of work. Then the phone rings. (We can, of course, replace the word phone for a notification from Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or a text message in this visualization.)

Photo by Roberto Nickson (@g) on Unsplash

Even though this individual was comfy, well situated, and planned to rest and relax , they automatically got up and rushed to their phone when the tone announced itself. They did this without thinking or making a conscious decision to honor their commitment to relaxation. They were like Pavlov’s dog caught in a different form of salivation conditioned by their habits.

An outside stimulus took them away from their time to themselves!

Maltz says, “The point I wish to make is this. You do not have to answer the telephone. You can choose to ignore the telephone. You can, if you choose, continue sitting quietly and relaxed, maintaining your original state of organization, by refusing to respond to the signal.

Get this mental picture clearly in your mind, for it can be quite helpful in overcoming the power of external stimuli to disturb you. See yourself sitting quietly, letting the phone ring, ignoring its signal, unmoved by its command. Although you are aware of it, you no longer mind or obey it. Also, get clear in your mind the fact that the outside signal in itself has no power over you, no power to move you. In the past, you have obeyed it, responded to it, purely out of habit. You can, if you wish, form a new habit of not responding.

The telephone ringing is a symbolic analogy to any and every other outside stimulus you might habitually give control over. Now that you’ve been made aware of this habit choose to very intentionally alter that habit. So-called road rage is nothing more than the giving up control of your emotional state to an outside stimulus.”

Read that again. Giving up YOUR emotional state. Handing over your peace of mind, your plan, your time.

Why would we do that if we knew who we were and what we wanted from life? Why would we allow randomness or someone else to dictate our lives?

I recently used the author’s visualization and the phone phrase to help center me. Maltz instructs us to always think and act in a way that honors our commitments to ourselves. When my co-worker reacted to a situation and began to direct his ire toward me instead of placing attention on the situation that had suddenly changed, I had a moment of “Woah, what’s going on here?” I quickly stepped back while they did their sputtering. As you all know, when someone is angry, a force seems directed at us that we want no part of.

I used the tools I had just learned. In my mind, I said, “The telephone is ringing, but I don’t have to answer it.” You’ve got it — he was the metaphorical telephone. That was a breakthrough. I let him deal with his own reaction and did not join him at that party. It worked. I didn’t accept the blame, I didn’t expose myself to his emotional volcano, and I could walk away calmly to think about how I could be of service. I felt so empowered!

When we win, everyone wins.

If you are anything like me, what follows a surprise attack of emotions is the storytelling and rationalizations and justification in my mind. Like energy attracts, and I didn’t want his energy.

What often follows when someone is angry is our processing of that affront, and our overthinking of what happened, what should have happened, and our judgment. So before the stories of what my co-worker was thinking or what happened to get him to that angry place took over in my mind and crept into my being, I distracted myself.

We have to do that. We need to disengage. We can’t fixate on other people’s emotional states. That’s not our job, and we should make darn sure not take any ownership of it. Emotions are guidance systems helping us correct our path.

We need to protect our state of being. I want to be centered and in touch with my core self. I used a tool I have begun to rely on and drew a focus wheel, which helped center me even further.

I was so very proud of myself for recognizing the situation, for keying into my emotions, for using a visualization technique that reminded me I owned my power and could make a choice to react or not. Then I removed the residual energy from my environment and disengaged.


I entered a new stage of being called IMPERTURBABILITY. I use a photo in my mind when it seems like the storms of life are raging around me, and I know I will get through this, and the sun will come out.

Author, Motivational Speaker, and Pastor, Steve Goodier wrote a superb story many years ago that has never left my heart. It touched me enough that I had an artist design a necklace to remind me of the power of the word, IMPERTURBABILITY.

Linda Layden — Etsy

Goodier’s story follows:

“I think Charles Allen said it first. “When faced with problems which threaten to steal your peace of mind, learn the meaning of the word ‘imperturbability.’”

“I heard of two artists who were asked to illustrate peace. Each was assigned the task of depicting a peaceful scene on canvas.

The first artist drew a beautiful picture of a countryside on a warm, spring day. A soft sun illumines green grass. A picturesque farm house and grazing cattle are bathed in its warmth. A farmer walks contentedly behind strong plow horses making his field ready for spring planting. The picture is one of beauty and quiet tranquility.

The other artist took a different approach. He drew a majestic, rugged cliff. Gnarled trees, twisted by years of violent winds, jut from the craggy mountainside. Dark clouds hang low and fierce while jagged streaks of lightning slash across an angry sky. The picture is one of violence, chaos, and rage.

But as one looks closely, something else becomes visible. There, in one of the crevices of the rocky mountain, tucked back just out of reach of the wind and rain — a nest with two small birds. Apparently unconcerned about the impending storm, they appear calm, cozy and peaceful as they patiently wait for the turbulence to pass.

And isn’t that the way it so often is? We may want to be surrounded by peace, but storms rage. Problems and pressures without threaten to steal peace of mind within.

The answer is imperturbability: inner peace which doesn’t leave when circumstances change. It’s a peace which is greater than the problems of life, built on assurance that the tempest will finally pass, we will survive the storm, we may grow stronger because of it and, in the meantime, we will not endure it alone.

Imperturbability — it’s the result of a peace which passes understanding. For serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.

[Source: Inspirational Gifts by Steve Goodier]

It’s All in Your Mind

Photo by Alexandre Chambon on Unsplash

In The Master Key System, Charles F. Haanel states,

“Mind is creative, and conditions, environment, and all experience in life are the result of our habitual or predominant mental attitude.”

Consider the person that wakes up and automatically checks for text messages or reads what has been posted overnight on their social media page. Its become automatic in our society to need that check-in. What happened to the days when we would roll over and snuggle with our partners or look at our children’s faces at breakfast instead of the smartphone screen?

Look at your environment. We have unconsciously allowed, practiced, and conditioned external forces to dictate our lives. Our relationships could be better.

Haanel reminds us that “the world within is subject to our control, and all laws of power and possession are also within our control. If we recognize these potentialities in the world within, they will take place in the world without.”

I believe this means we have a responsibility to look within for answers, make purposeful choices, and then apply all the good from within to our environment. Whenever we look externally for answers, we lose.

Don’t get me wrong, people can certainly motivate us, uplift us, and offer hope, but we must do the work. “I don’t know what to do with my life” is a cop-out for not getting out there and trying something. Why do we think we need to be perfect?

We were made to decide on a goal, take in feedback about the environment and conditions present, and then take actions to attain that goal. Can and should goals change? All the time! Will we hit a bump in the road? Of course. Will we be challenged? Expect it!

Pay attention to your emotions when the shakeup happens.

These little detours are the golden nuggets of life!

The negative reinforcement we feel produces course corrections. This is where we learn the most and remember. Our emotions are like Siri telling us there is a detour while we are driving. We’re not thrilled about the detour, but we know there is still a path open to get to our destination!

When you’re feeling good — do more of that. When you're feeling fearful, angry, anxious, jealous, etc., our emotions are saying, correct your course!

Photo by Matt Duncan on Unsplash

Pay Attention to Your Emotions

Pay attention to your emotions when reading that social media post, and your blood starts to boil.

Your emotions are telling you that you are not aiming toward what you want.

When the person cuts you off in traffic, pay attention to that emotional clue — you will not feel better or attain your goal by engaging with them.

  1. Stay centered. Remember what you wanted to do before you were sidetracked. Get back to that good feeling goal.

2. Use your tools — say: I don’t have to pick up that telephone.

3. Visualize yourself as one of the small, nested doves, wind and rain and lightning all around, but you are safe and out of harm’s way: imperturbability — peace amidst the storm.

Feel free to share your tools for combating stress! I would appreciate knowing this touched you in some way by a show of hands. Look for the clap button and tap it up to 50 times.