Before You React

Often when we are in a moment of conflict, for whatever reason that might present, we are pulled out of our intentions. This is generally because we feel pressured and fall back into auto-pilot. Unfortunately for most of us, this auto-pilot was configured through an authoritative society and conditioned us to silence emotions, avoid discomfort, hide our vulnerability and protect our sense of control. All of which generally comes at the expense of the other people involved and our connection to them and invests in continuing that same cycle when our children begin developing relationships with others including their own children should they have them.

But it doesn’t have to be this way!!

When I am feeling myself driven to react in ways that seem in contrast with my ideals, this is how I re-assess and re-align.

Pause

I think the mistruth that snowballs into all of the others in these moments is the idea that there is no time. Doing the first thing that comes to mind makes sense in an emergency, we get scared that inaction could lead to further harm; the saying a stitch in time saves nine comes to mind. Not only do we feel momentarily rushed but also in a more pervasive sense; we can feel a sense of urgency in how children are “progressing” and “developing” especially when entrenched in spheres that emphasis as such.

But it is a fallacy! The situation feels alarming but you do not have to respond with alarm. You can take a moment, you can take however many moments you need in fact, to bring yourself back to your intentions. You are allowed to say to the other people involved; “I’m feeling unclear about what to do, I need a moment to think”.

Assess and then act unless the situation involves literal imminent harm; in that case you should create safety as respectfully as possible first and then retrospectively re-asses, debriefing if necessary.

Remember Your Agency

Agency: the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices.

This is two fold. Firstly, it reminds me that I can make an active choice; I control me. No matter what has happened before this moment, this moment now is mine to exist within and I choose what that looks like, I choose what that feels like.

Secondly, it reminds me that I cannot control another person without diminishing their humanity. The ways in which we gain authority over another human is by reducing the autonomy they have over themselves.

When we are driven to seize control, it indicates that we are acting from a place of expectation;

Check Your Expectations

Expectations are born out of loyalty to concepts. When we honour expectations, we lose sight of our ability to address the actual humans involved and instead look for the easiest way to adjust our reality to obtain conformity to the idea within our head, no matter the human cost.

It is important to first acknowledge what it is one believes SHOULD happen in this situation so that you can begin to explore why? Where did that SHOULD originate? Is this SHOULD valid and/or necessary? Is this SHOULD mine?

It is not our responsibility to carry around anybody else’s SHOULDS. And even our own SHOULDS can be corrupted and in need of examining.

Generally our expectations are born out of four main spaces that can often be interconnected; conditioning, unmet needs, fear and hurt.

Conditioning

Is your control a bid to meet the need of somebody else? Then you might be acting based on your social conditioning.

As children, we were all handed on a set of established ritualistic “truths” and through behaviour modification we are taught to follow them without question. This is so effective because we literally believe these “truths” in the context of ourselves: if [something] did/did not happen to me as a child, I would be/not be [something] therefore my child requires the same treatment to obtain the same results. It is flawed logic; firstly consider, were you given the opportunity to demonstrate otherwise? Was anyone?

Society has established a set of needs it wishes for people to conform to but you can create your own framework based on your personal ideals. What are the needs of others that actually need to be met?

Unmet Needs

Is your control a bid to meet a need within yourself? Then you might be acting based on your unmet needs.

The worst choices we make in life are from a position of lack. When we are desperate to fulfil an inadequacy, we will reach for any technique that feels easiest and quickest. This is usually cyclic in that doing so leaves the deficiency unsatisfactorily met and so you need to keep reaching further and further into control.

We often do not even realise what we are doing is attempting to meet a need, we don’t even realise there is a need at all and how can you meet something you are unclear on? So what are your needs? And don’t discount some of the more basic needs: nutrients, hydration, sleep, movement, fresh air and sunshine.

Fears

Is your control a bid to protect another person? Then you might be acting based on your fears.

There is a certain level of fear that keeps us grounded from our impulses, it protects us from making choices that are high risk. But our fears can also lead us towards our impulses when the pathways towards risk assessment have been interrupted and overwritten by the agendas of others. Protecting our children is so instinctual but we have been corrupted in our sense of what is a genuine danger. Walking towards oncoming traffic? Imminent threat. Walking towards potential disappointment? Part of the human experience. What people need is not protection but support through their own choices and their potential consequences.

What is it that you are afraid of? Where did that fear originate? Is that fear valid and likely?

Hurt

Is your control a bid to protect yourself? Then you might be acting based on your hurt.

We are all aware that our past experiences shape us. Often times it is through processing a painful experience that we can find growth, awareness and genuine connection. Unfortunately, many of the painful experiences we have had, have not been processed. When we are reminded of them by a familiar context, they see it as their opportunity to remind you: I am here, I am waiting, I require attention. They piggyback in on the current circumstances, hoping for resolution.

Is your pain from this moment or is the moment a reminder of pain? What does this hurt need to feel resolved?

Offer Yourself Empathy

What it is that you are feeling, is demanding acknowledgement. If you do not offer yourself empathy, it will try to take its validation from your actions instead. Though your feelings might have originated from a corrupted source pattern, they are still completely real and a valid experience you are having. Dismantling the contributing factors, discredits acting upon the emotion in certain ways but not the emotion itself.

Remember that you do not need to silence what you are feeling, you are simply working to bring intention back into your reaction to them. Healing takes time, it is a concerted effort at each moment that your intention is threatened.

Consider Your Options

So, once you’ve began processing everything; what options are you left with to address the current situation with? Which most aligns with who you want to be? That is how you begin to act with intention.

 

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