Today I saw a lady spill the contents of two shopping bags all over the ground, breaking some, all because a wasp flew near her. She told me afterwards that she was stung repeatedly as a child and ever since has had a strong and unresolved fear of wasps.

It’s like when you handle a hot dish mistakenly and immediately drop it because it’s all you can do to stop the burning sensation on your hands.

In these instances you don’t have a choice. Instinct takes over and you lose either some of your week’s groceries or the result of some hard graft in the kitchen.

Other times it feels like you don’t have a choice whereas in fact you do. When your work is criticized, when someone close to you is insulted, when your feeling of well-being or safety is threatened in some way, it’s easy to react instinctively. We hit back, we do things that we may not do if we took a day, even an hour to think about it.

You don’t have that time when you handle a hot dish, but if you can recognize the situations when you do, it can save a messy clean-up that wasn’t necessary to create in the first place.