These past few days I felt like a runaway train. I experience this infrequently but it can get ugly pretty quickly. Sometimes I lose sight of the power that I am. Without realizing it, I surrender myself to the yucky, rotten, not good feeling experiences. I do so a little at a time, yet very quickly. It’s insidious. I don’t see it coming and then all of a sudden I’m drowning in it. It’s like I’ve tripped and fallen into a cesspool. Except that in hindsight I can see that I’ve waded in of my own free will. Taking one step at a time into it until I was in way over my head.
I, like so many other people, had gotten caught up in the election and Standing Rock. I was swept up in what I saw as the violation of human beings, the loss of their rights, the uncaring attitudes, the bullying, the lies, the just plain loss and the heart wrenching sadness of it all. Over the past couple of days (Yes, it did last that long) I actually sat and cried at my computer a few times. I was reacting to what I was seeing rather than consciously choosing how and who I was being.
Of course you might be thinking to yourself, what is she talking about? And what exactly does that mean? You might even think of course you’re reacting to what you’re seeing, how else would you go through life? What if you were to frame it in this manner, how we react to something is usually based on our own emotional bruises or scars? For instance, imagine someone believes himself or herself to be overweight. They are in a public place and hear a comment made about being fat. He/she will be reactionary. Their reaction will be based on their own internal dialog and beliefs. They may become quiet and withdraw into their shell, leave, make a scene or any number of other possibilities. How does this differ from the person that doesn’t have any attachment to being fat? Does this unattached person even notice the remark? It doesn’t even matter how much extra (if any) either of these people are carrying on their body. It’s about individuals’ perception of self. You must agree that’s pretty amazing.
Remember the movie Shallow Hal? During an interview for W magazine Gwyneth Paltrow stated, “The first day I tried [the fat suit] on, I was in the Tribeca Grand [hotel in New York City] and I walked through the lobby. It was so sad; it was so disturbing. No one would make eye contact with me because I was obese.” She was an observer in that part, not the main player. She had no personal emotional attachment other than the way she saw people in their treatment of her. She was free and clear of reacting based on her feelings about herself.
How do we stop reacting and begin to choose our action? It takes practice especially if we have allowed ourselves to go through life indiscriminately reacting to situations without self-restraint, such as a rageaholic, who is the equivalent of a nuclear reactor. If you’re reading this it’s unlikely you’re there. The action required is easy. The effort entailed depends when you are on the scale.
You may have heard of the practice of counting to 10 before responding. This is the first step. Ten is not a magic number. It just means stop and think! In my own personal practice during this ‘cooling off period’ I ask myself a variety of questions. Here are a few. What’s my raw spot here? What is this connected to? How does this situation remind me of being vulnerable? Was I hurt then? How was I hurt? Can I forgive that person (before)? Can I forgive myself?
More often than not, I can trace my emotional connection to a previous event that has very little to do with the current one. I am usually reminded of another experience during which I felt unsafe and I have simply reverted to survival mode. Reactions you will find are often irrational. At one time they were suited to a situation and they served a purpose but they probably are no longer functional for what you want in life. Survival is just that, to get you out alive immediately. It is not in anyone’s best interest to build a life from survival mode.
What is beneficial though is to be able to see the difference. One of the most worthwhile awareness’s I’ve ever had is that people do what they do because of them not me. It’s about them. When you realize what your motivation is and that they are responsible for how they behave you get to choose which action to take or to take no action at all. Whether that is to do a, b or c or even ignore everything, it is a choice! You are no longer reacting. You are choosing.
As an aside, occasionally you may find there is a direct connection. Maybe the same person is involved. Perhaps, previously the results were unpleasant or even harmful. In those circumstances there must be clear communication from each party regarding their needs, desires, a projected outcome and perhaps a secondary plan for one or both people if they can’t meet each other’s needs.
At any rate when we choose to act upon a circumstance or situation we are in our power. As you choose you can start to heal the old reactionary behaviors in accordance with their bruises that come up when you are assessing current situations. This is your life and you are in control even if you don’t know it. It certainly become easier to navigate through it when you realize that you’ve been steering all along. Life becomes less messy when you step into the ways in which you can move towards your desires.
In which ways have you been reactionary? Will you do anything differently going forward? How have you moved into your power and strengths already? Please comment below or privately email me if you prefer. Lucinda @lucindasmith.com