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September 25, 2012

Five Reasons To STOP Your Reactivity

IStock_00angry womenlReactivity is far too common today.  Someone feels slighted and they fall apart or attack the person whom they think slighted them.  Another person feels wounded and they respond by blurting out the one thing they’re sure will hit the offender like a ton of bricks.  Yet another person discovers their partner had an affair and they make it their mission to make their partner, their partner’s lover and the lover’s family pay for the betrayal. 

It’s time to stop the reactivity.  If we cannot contain ourselves when life throws us a curve ball, then we are in for a very bumpy ride.  Life throws us curve balls.  People make mistakes that cause other people pain.  Men and women alike will be hurt, disappointed, upset and frustrated by one another from now until the end of time.  It benefits all of us when we can handle these life incidents without flipping out, hurting back, collapsing or getting hysterical.  Remaining grounded and calm in even the most difficult of times will help the difficult times be less difficult.  Staying calm while also setting limits and having our own back during these times will also speed up any healing that needs to happen.

When it comes to reactivity, it’s best to leave it out of your life.  Below are five reasons to stop the reactivity.  Take note:
1.    Reactivity is a thoughtless act.  Anytime we just give in to our knee-jerk reaction, we are not thinking.  That is a child-like response to an adult problem.  Children can’t solve adult problems.
2.    Reactivity results in you looking like the crazy person.  Regardless of what the other person did or didn’t do, when we start responding in the extreme, we look like the crazy one.  When we look crazy, the other person looks like the good guy—even when they’re not.

3.    Reactivity often ends with the “freak out hangover.”  Often, when we lash out, we say something we regret, do something we’re ashamed of or act like someone we never thought we’d be.  After our freak out, we feel embarrassed and humiliated about our actions.
4.    Being reactive harms us emotionally.  The more reactive we are, the more out of control we feel.  Eventually our reactivity catches up with us.  We begin to feel bad about ourselves, wonder why everyone in our life is so difficult and question whether there’s something wrong with us.
5.    Reactivity harms relationships.  People don’t like to be around constant drama; it gets old.  Relationships begin to fall by the wayside, friendships grow distant and jobs become more difficult to keep.  The more reactive we are, the more chaotic our lives become.

Reactivity is seldom the answer to life’s problems.  It’s harmful to relationships and to the individuals who struggle with being reactive.  When we are constantly snapping, yelling, attacking, falling apart, etc., we are out of control and at the whim of every little thing life throws at us.  Yuck—how miserable.  We don’t need to be at the whim of others, life or circumstances.  When we stop reacting all the time, we can actually calm things down, center ourselves, take the time to think, and then respond in a way that serves us.  This one move can be life-changing. 

Challenge:  You deserve to step out of the chaos.  If you struggle with being reactive, work it.  Pause-Breathe-Think-Do.  Notice how this shift feels internally.  Getting control of yourself is the first step toward creating a better life.  Take the step.

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A month ago I needed the emotional support of my girlfriend and asked if I could come over. She told me that she was doing laundry - which hurt me and infuriated me. She reached out to me after I sent her an email expressing how hurt I was. But, to my regret, I shut her out for a week. When we finally spoke she attacked me in a cool and calm matter, and said how she was going to take some time off to think about what she should do with me - but let me know that she was leaning towards not allowing me to sleep over any more and just being friends. She claimed that we rushed into our relationship (despite the fact that I did not touch her the first 6 weeks we were together!), and that she did not know me (after 6 months of dating!). I regret shutting down. I need to work on this.

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