How often do we see the people who know us well, shrugging their shoulders or stifling a shriek at the things we’ve said or done with a, ‘what are you like!’

How often do we find ourselves in stressful situations reacting in a way that, on reflection, isn’t either appropriate or desirable?

We may even afterwards find ourselves feeling ashamed, regretful, embarrassed, frustrated or exasperated about what’s happened.

Would it be useful to be able to step back a little and review your triggers, to pause and pay attention to what’s happening inside you emotionally, so that you can modify or be a little more circumspect in what you say and do?

It’s possible to single out four different characteristics that we adopt in different scenarios, each one being either in balance or out of balance, depending on where we are emotionally. For convenience, let’s call them the lover, the warrior, the jester and the king or queen.

Let’s have a look at how each of these can influence your life and then identify ways to use them well, so attaining a better balance in life.

– The lover can be described as kind, supportive, creative, empathic. All familiar as nurturing, parental traits, where you’re interested in what others have to say, eager to get to know them better and genuinely keen to be supportive. But when it’s out of balance the lover can be needy, demanding and desperate to please, an unfortunate way of reacting, especially during a tense or fraught stage in a relationship, when you’re keen to keep it in your life. Everything is taken personally when the lover is out of balance.

– The warrior is often seen as a well-functioning adult; calm, reasonable and reasoning, eager to compromise, negotiate and find the best way through disagreements or deliberations. But when it’s out of balance the warrior can become angry, aggressive, bullying and even violent.

– The jester. I’m sure we all know someone who’s good at defusing tense situations. A look, a joke or a comment from them immediately relaxes a potential ‘drama’ and has everyone laughing at the ways things have got out of hand. It lets people see, in a good-humoured way, how they’re over-reacting and behaving foolishly. But equally, the downside to humour can be when it’s used as a force for cruel, bullying treatment when someone becomes the butt of the jokes and is ridiculed.

– Dependent on your gender, the king or queen highlights the importance of taking care of you and your own needs and personal wants. Ensuring that you’re looking after yourself and your health, making decisions and choices that sit well with you. And when you’re in a good place you’re in a better position to function well with others.

– Using these insights allows you to quickly tune into your responses and become more aware of what’s happening in your life, to become clearer about your triggers and see ways you can change unwanted behaviour and reactions into more appropriate ways of being. You become able to identify when you’re out of balance and unhappy and move into a more balanced state, so becoming more in control.

For example, if you start to notice that when you’re unhappy you become sulky, tearful and manipulative you can see that these are the traits of the out of balance lover. This enables you to pause and check how you’d rather be. You’re then able to start thinking more clearly, to become more appreciative of the other person’s point of view, in a better position to open up a positive, constructive discussion as a more balanced, appropriately assertive warrior. Or sometimes introducing self-deprecating humour can be a great way to break the ice and defuse a situation, adopting the role of in balance jester.

Awareness gives you more control as you recognise and change what you don’t like, rather than hardly noticing when you’re being triggered by situations which cause you to react in an unfortunate way.

Equally, if you find yourself noticing when others behave in this way you can use this positive technique to manage the situation and ensure that you get better responses. Simply by refusing to be pulled into their negative cycles of behaviour you can influence the dynamics of the situation.

By being a balanced lover, warrior or joker you protect your king or queen and refuse to react in an angry or upset manner. When they get no emotional response, as you choose to stay calm and ‘in balance’, you’ll change the energy and they’ll quickly learn that their negative approach has to change into something more appropriate.

Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.

She’s author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.

Susan Leigh, counsellor, hypnotherapist and relationship counsellor.