When we are being reactive, we tend to loose touch with reality (although we won’t admit that at the time) and fall into an automatic action, series of actions or behaviour that may not be most beneficial to what we really want. We have all been there before. It is like we are being run by some past set of behaviour, unable to calm ourselves down, or maybe not wanting to calm yourself down (your ego says something like, don’t calm down, this is a big deal, even though really it could be something like crying over spilt milk). Generally, people say, it’s like their ego is running the show, or ‘I didn’t really mean it, it was just like, they …… and I wanted to ……. I just had to do it…….
Reducing reactivity is a key goal of many of my private clients although so far, no one has come forward specifically with this in mind. Through further questioning, it becomes apparent that they react in their workplace or at home and ‘well it’s natural isn’t it’ they say. TRUST ME, it may be natural but you can change it! I come from a very reactive family and being x Army I learned to react pretty quick to certain stimulus! But you now have the power to change this.
To reduce reactivity today:
- Simply read through this.
- Find an example of each sign.
- And put a link back to this article in your calendar with a reminder to read it again every 2-3 weeks for the next 6 months. Reactivity finished. Or reduced to minutes, forever.
- Things seem much bigger and important than they really are. It’s liked being worked up over spilt milk. Someone close to us is saying something and we are triggered and go off on rage or tangent. An emotional reaction which is much bigger than the actual event. It often doesn’t seem bigger than the event when in reactive mode if you’re unaware, but once you get used to spotting reactivity, this may be the easiest, fastest clue to catch.
- Hearing ourselves repeat the same words, phrases beliefs we said last time. Like we leave the scene or person which trigged the reactivity, and we go wash the dishes or try to occupy our mind and we are then telling ourselves stories, the same stories we’ve told yourself many times. “This person ruined my life” “I have to leave them” “No one understands…”
- Seeing ourselves repeat the same actions. Sitting on the couch trying to zone out with TV. Storming off. Making a mess. Locking ourselves in/out.
- Having no empathy with the person or people that ‘triggered’ you or are involved. Before we felt empathy for them, they could have been our beloved partners or family, but now we are cut off from having empathy for them.
- Over dramatising what we feel. Overacting. Making too much of a fuss because…..
- An exaggerated need to be right. We may find ourselves talking to ourselves answers and reasons why we are right. This is one I did a lot! I would find myself justifying my position in many different ways and sometimes looking for others to justify we are right. We may find ourselves on the mobile phone texting over and over. We may find ourselves looking for others to justify ourselves without that empathy or respect for the other person.
Interestingly there is something running in the background. It is as if we are closed off to self-reflection. We are unable to see we are acting. We are so caught up in it, we will not usually acknowledge these signs and the good news is we don’t have too.
The first BIG step, is simply raising our awareness. Raise our awareness of these signs. Think back to previous experiences when you have shown these signs if you want to reduce your reactivity RIGHT NOW. Doing so will improve your chances of ‘waking up’ in the dream, or catching yourself when reacting.
HOW TO REDUCE REACTIVITY WHEN IT OCCURS:
- Notice the signs.
- Acknowledge reactivity. If you discuss this with your partner you can have a sign, such as putting two fingers on one’s head. It may be embarrassing being caught or having this, but it’s likely others close to us, see our reactivity before we do. Turn the lights on your self, or let them turn it on. But stop repeating the same mistakes in the dark. Reacting kills relationships.
- We don’t have to say, we are over dramatising or admit we are doing one of the signs above. Saying we are wrong regardless of who is can be hard. It is much easier to just say, “Reacting”. As soon as we notice any of the signs, say “Reacting”. You can say it out loud to make it more effective or say it quietly but do say it out loud, not just in your head where all the other noise is.
- Advanced technique: If you discuss this with your partner you can have a sign, such as putting two fingers on one’s head. It may be embarrassing being caught or having this, but it’s likely others close to us, see our reactivity before we do. Turn the lights on your self, or let them turn it on. But stop repeating the same mistakes in the dark. Reacting kills relationships.
HOW TO MAKE THIS STICK
Simply set a calendar reminder to come back to this article and re read it every couple of weeks. You know the benefits will be huge. It’s up to you know. Book an appointment to see Dr Preet or I (Adrian Cahill) and set your calendar reminders. You can do this.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. You must be on your way to becoming a better version of you otherwise you wouldn’t have gotten this far!