Inner Light Clarity

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Responding vs. Reacting


Just in the past couple of years, I have learned about this concept of responding rather than reacting to things. For me, for years, when anything new came up my reaction was completely automatic. In fact, my reaction to some things would surprise me as much as it would surprise others! Being intentional with a response, especially when something unexpected comes up is a huge source of power. After all, don’t you want to be in charge of the way you show up?


I know some things can be particularly challenging. The triggers that make us sad and withdraw will likely cause just that, to our own detriment. But those triggers that infuriate us and make us angry and aggressive? When you allow your response to take control in those circumstances, you might be doing so to the detriment of those around you.


So how can we switch off our innate reactivity and learn to respond mindfully? You can try willing yourself to do it, and if you get good at interfering in your body’s natural response you might be able to integrate a meaningful response, though it will take more energy and willpower to go directly against what your mind and body are conditioned to do.

Maybe you are wise enough to ask for a ‘time-out,’ remove yourself from the situation and try to let the big emotions play out. Box breathing, emotional freedom technique (EFT, or tapping), or physical exertion are all things that can help move the emotions through your body so you can show up with an intentional response. 


The only problem with these techniques is that they require so much self-control that even if you do okay most of the time, there will be those few times where you allow your naturally triggered reaction to emerge, and feeling bad enough about that will give you some motivation for trying harder to control that reaction better the next time. You will also need to remember to not be hard on yourself. Every time it happens you might lose trust in your stability or ability to emotionally regulate. These sorts of things happening often can lead to guilt or frustration with ourselves.


There is an alternative approach, of course. What if you spent some time working through your triggers? What if you identified what deep seated need or fear any given situation was bringing up for you, and you addressed it? Some people have experienced Trauma and strife beyond what many of us could imagine. But every one of us has experienced smaller traumas, or instances where we were hurt, berated, or emotionally unstable and we did not get the safe space to fully process, understand, and/or integrate what happened. These (little ‘t’) small traumas still need to be processed and recognized before we can fully release them and integrate the lessons that we learned in the process. 


I have used PSYCH-K to address this type of emotional reactivity, and it is a wonderful first place to start in using this modality, as it can transform the things that we like least in ourselves, or help us to fully accept ourselves, exactly as we are. We can begin to own our actions in every situation, even when we are feeling triggered. We can take control of our minds and our reactions and give ourselves the gift of peace and understanding in those situations so that we can learn to go straight to an appropriate reaction.


Have you used PSYCH-K to change your reactions? I would love to hear how! Or, if you have been able to access any other type of lasting change with another method, please leave a comment below!

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