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Controlling Your Reactions

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

Don’t just react, take your time and respond with purpose.

There is a difference between reacting and responding. A reaction is typically quick, without much thought, it maybe tense and aggressive. A response is thought through, calm and non-threatening.

A reaction typically provokes more reactions often bad, responding with purpose can end any potential cyclical cause and effects.

When something good or bad happens to you the challenge is to stand back, take a breath, think it over taking your time and form a detached frame of mind, watch the situation develop, before reacting. This allows you time to process what has happened and assess your response. Any reaction before you do this is guided by your emotions and can lead to unwanted outcomes.

Base your response on your core values. Try not to base your response on how you think others will feel, or what they might think of you or how you fear they may judge you. Take the emotion out of it. Reacting is emotional.

Your emotions are for experiencing life’s ups and downs and fundamentally they are a tool of evolution, they evolved originally to encourage you to be fearful of danger and excited by lust. Conscious awareness can often conflict with your primal emotional driven thinking. Jeremy Griffith calls this the Human condition, it’s the constant battle that we must wage between our primal urges and what we know is best for us and those around us, we must win in order to become aware and awake and head towards enlightenment.

Controlling Your Reactions
Controlling Your Reactions

Psychology Today says that back in 1998, researchers Anthony Greenwald, Debbie McGhee, and Jordan Schwartz introduced something called the Implicit Association Test (IAT). The IAT measures the milliseconds that it takes to connect pairs of ideas. The test is based on the concept that you will be faster putting together ideas you already associate with one another. For example if you automatically associate female with family and male with career, then you’ll be fast placing nouns that relate to female/family or male/career in the columns. But if the columns are titled male/family and female/career and those are not the associations of your unconscious mind, it will take an extra millisecond or two to sort the nouns properly.

This shows that we train our brains to react as we grow and learn; we stop thinking about the obvious so we can concentrate on what we do not know. However, it we want to alter direction we have to interfere with this pre-existing programming or learned behaviour. Therefore, we must use our consciousness to apply an alternative. The good news is that if we do this a number of times, we implement the new learned behaviour over the old.

A benefit of paying full attention to your reactions, or being mindful, about a particular event or situation is that it will often help ease any pain you may be feeling.

Even joy must be measured, don't make life altering decisions using your emotions. They are primal and not always logical.

All this and much more is explored in my new book called “The Answer is You”, out later in 2020. It examines the principals of emotional fitness and self-responsibility along with mindfulness, cognitive behaviour and the art of coming from a position of purpose.

Responding instead of reacting is psychological trick that will eventually lead to a calmness that will benefit many areas of your life, taking time even in emergency situations, will provide you with a deliberateness that will see more accurate results and deficiency generally.

Reacting impulsively will build your stress levels, in the background of your mind, stress will accumulate and manifest itself later in undesirable ways. Like losing your temper at things and events that don’t matter. Exercise the control early and clear the build up of stress that can lay at the back of your mind like dynamite. Lowering your levels of stress will improve your health and resilience.

When we are young we are forever wanting to rush in with impatience but with age comes wisdom and of course the necessity to slow down, the benefits of this are not obvious to us at first but responding with purpose will always out way the results of emotional reactions.

So, learn to respond, not react, the benefits will massively outweigh the time it takes to master this gift. Responding will give you time, better results, better relationships, and a calmness that will even extend your life.

Feel free to share and remember, the answer is you!

Tony Steven

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