Working with your reactions ultimately allows you to develop the skill of emotional stability: being able to respond rather than react to a situation. This ability allows you to be the person you want to be in relationships, rather than feeling confused and out of control.
Your world is like a mirror. What you see in others is often a reflection of yourself. If you find yourself reacting to others: judging, finding fault or criticising others, it can be helpful to ask if you are judging, finding fault or criticising yourself? Generally, with loving awareness, you will find some correlation.
A reaction is an opportunity to know what pain it is, of which you need to let go, as you are working with and coming to peace with your shadow. Your shadow is aspects of yourself that you may have repressed such as; anger, disappointment or hurt. However, by rejecting your shadow, you are pushing against it or resisting it.
All pain is resistant to the natural flow of life. By exploring and accepting your reactions (or shadow), you are beginning to let go of pain and moving to a place beyond suffering. It is your mind that initially created your reactionary patterns. Learning to respond rather than react, helps you to deconstruct those patterns, allowing you to feel more in your natural state of peace and harmony.
The reaction and the resulting feelings are trying to tell you something about yourself. A reaction can unlock the door to greater awareness if you can take responsibility for your feelings and not fall into the trap of blame. When you accept responsibility for your feelings, you have the opportunity to learn and grow from your experiences.
1. Give yourself space: from the person to whom you are reacting.
2. Stay with how you are feeling and name it: for example, hurt. Look back, paying particular attention to the events of your life, before the age of six. Before six years old, you experienced the world more emotionally, as your frontal reasoning centres were not yet developed. However, do not look at this time exclusively, as patterns of reaction can develop at any age.
3. Establish whether you have felt this way before: is this feeling related to a behavioural pattern? For example, you may have repeatedly felt hurt throughout your life, and now this has become a reactive (automatic) behavioural pattern.
4. If so, awareness is often sufficient: to release the pattern. When you gain new awareness, there is often a shift in the body, signified by recognition or the pattern and feeling better, as you expand and gain insight.
5. As an adult, you can: use your reasoning centres to choose your preferred response. You can doubt your thoughts. Your thoughts have power only when you believe in them! Perhaps the person’s intention was not to hurt you. Perhaps the other person was having a bad day. Acknowledge and accept the feeling of hurt is within you for healing. Lovingly observe and embrace it—watch it dissipate with love.
6. Practice seeing yourself as the observer: or witness of yourself in a situation (thoughts and feelings), rather than “in” the situation. Clarity and insights will flow more easily, when you let your emotions flow through your body, allowing you to feel calm and clear.
7. Speak to the person: who you were reacting to after you have processed your reaction. Taking time to process your reaction, will break the cycle of pain and hurt that can result from saying something you don’t mean, while you have the reaction. It is more effective to speak from a loving rather than a reactive place. Speaking in an affirming way over time can help to create a safe environment of unconditional love.
Observe, work with, and understand your reactions. Over time, with practice, this process will help you to feel peaceful in most situations. You will know when you have successfully worked through a reaction when you put yourself in the same situation that you would have found stressful in the past and can maintain a sense of peace.
Tip: An insight or sense of peace signifies you have processed your reaction. Then return to focussing on the joy in your life as where focus goes energy flows!
To learn more about responding rather than reacting see: Love Now eCourse