Are you Reacting or Responding?
I had a hard morning the other day. It doesn’t matter what the trigger was for the crappy morning but that I reacted poorly resulting in anger. I dropped the kids off at school and the entire drive back home I could feel the anger bubbling inside me and negative thoughts that were in the blame and complain category. Then I got home, made some coffee (because adding caffeine would help right?) and started at work. Yes, distraction will make this go away. Only it didn’t! 40 minutes later I was still angry, now with caffeine coursing through my body making me jittery and I knew my work wasn’t quality. So, I stopped.
I decided to do a 10-minute guided meditation on ‘releasing negative emotions’. Within seconds of breathing, I could feel a change in my body. The voice was telling me not to label the emotion as good or bad, but to allow it into your body with love. I did. She asked to feel it in your body…where and how was it showing up. Wait, why was my butt clenched and my legs stiff and my jaw tight? I noticed how the anger was showing up in my body physically and I acknowledged it, then released it. Then, she said, hold the emotion with love. I found myself then caring for this emotion in my heart, grateful that it was protecting me from something, understanding that it wasn’t serving me and when I felt ready, I let it go. I didn’t even need 10 minutes.
Then, I was able to find clarity.
Why was I angry in the first place? Oh, because I care. Why did I care? Because I was fearful and worried. Where was that fear and worry coming from? My own belief system rooted in my own childhood. Is everyone going to be ok? Absolutely.
The reacting to the trigger happened so fast that I didn’t even realize where the anger came from. Turns out, when I slowed everything down, realized what actually was happening, I could choose a different response. Within 5 minutes of getting present, I was able to re-group, re-focus and deal with my day in a far more positive and productive way.
When you are feeling an emotion that isn’t serving you, here are some steps to take:
1) Notice it and create awareness.
2) Stop what you are doing and find a quiet place to deal with the emotion.
3) Breathe to get your brain back online.
4) Notice if the emotion is living physically in your body and choose to release the muscles that are tightened and move the energy away from those areas.
5) Give it love. Know that the reaction has taken place to take care of you for some reason. Acknowledge the beauty and power of our bodies and show gratitude for its protection. Know that when you are safe and the reaction is no longer serving you, you can choose to release it.
6) Clarify. Where is that emotion was coming from, why did it show up, what was it protecting you from? Decide if that is the right emotion to serve you best.
7) Respond. Choose a response that will better serve you.
What works for you? What helps you shift from reaction mode to a positive response?