The STOP skill consists of the following sequence: Stop, Take a step back, Observe, Proceed mindfully.
When you feel that your emotions seem to be in control, stop! Don’t react. Don’t move a muscle. Just freeze especially those muscles around the mouth. Freezing for a moment helps prevent you from doing what your emotions want you to do (which is to act without thinking). Stay in control. Remember, you are the boss of your emotions. Name the emotion – put a label on it.
Take A Step Back
When you are faced with a difficult situation, it may be hard to think about how to deal with it on the spot. Give yourself some time to calm down and think. Take a step back from the situation. Get unstuck from what is going on. Take a deep breath and continue breathing deeply as long as you need and until you are in control. Do not let your emotions control what you do. It is the rare incident, indeed, wherein we need to make a split-second decision about anything. Hence, it is okay to take our time to decide how to respond.
Observe what is happening around you and within you, who is involved, and what are other people doing or saying. Listen to the Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) that occur…remember those are based on an outdated Belief System that was programmed before you were seven. To make effective choices, it is important NOT to jump to conclusions. Instead, gather the relevant facts so you can understand what is going on and what options are available.
Ask yourself, “What do I want from this situation?” or “What are my goals?” or “What choice might make this situation better or worse?” or “What act will allow for success?” Stay calm, stay in control, and when you have some information and how that may impact your goals, you will be better prepared to deal with the situation effectively. Remember your brain needs time to think all of this through.