What is the Cost of Being Too Reactive?
Not only are feelings of anxiety and fear bad for our health, but we also respond in ways that overload and hurt ourselves and our goals in life. Our adrenaline stays high all the time, and without thinking, we say or do the first thing that comes to mind. We are controlled by everyone and everything in our environment.
The opposite of reactive is “proactive”. That is when you take your personal God-given right to choose actions, feelings, and thoughts that are in your own best interest. This is the obviously better choice of how to deal with life.
Why You Should Not React
“Why shouldn’t I say something back? Why shouldn’t I be upset? He or she deserves to bear the brunt of my turmoil.” That may be, but you don’t. We’re talking here about your lack of peace, your lack of serenity, your wasted moments. – Mellody Beattie (Codependent No More, Ch. 6)
If a reaction is not useful, it does nothing more than upset you. So if you already know that there is a problem in this situation or person, and if the issue at hand is not important, then walk away. Our reactivity will cause a reaction in others, and then everyone gets involved and it becomes a quagmire that no one can climb out of. Sometimes the original cause of the argument gets forgotten!
Sometimes your reaction is just the excuse that someone was waiting for. Or as I said before, sometimes there is a real problem, but you are distracted from it by reacting to something else. Either alternative is not what’s best for you.
Change Your Thoughts About Reactions
So here are a few thoughts to get beyond “reactive”.
• We don’t have to take things so seriously
• We don’t have to take other people’s rejection or other actions as a reflection of our self-worth
• We don’t have to take the big things personally. So when your mother criticizes you because she is a borderline personality, you don’t have to say, “If you loved me, you wouldn’t say that.” You would just think that she can’t help herself. You would perhaps comment on it, and then walk away.
How To Detach In Four Steps
1. Identify if you have lost your peace and serenity. You may be feeling overwhelmed by feeling anxious, angry, self-pitying, confused, or ashamed. That means that you have allowed someone to rile up a reaction.
2. Get comfortable. Until you are back to being peaceful and serene, there is no need to do or say anything. For example, you could do deep breathing, go for a walk, talk to a friend, watch a video or read a book.
3. Tell the truth about your feelings. First of all, your feelings come from your thoughts (See our free PDF “Stop Feeling Bad Today”) So if you think someone is always out to get you, it will be hard to calm down. Examine carefully the situation. Here are a few questions directly from Mellody Beattie that are good for codependents to use:
a. Were you trying to control someone or some event?
b. How serious is the problem or issue?
c. Are you taking responsibility for someone else?
d. Are you angry because someone didn’t guess what you really wanted or what you were really trying to say?
e. Are you taking someone’s behavior too personally?
f. Did someone push your insecurity or guilt buttons?
g. Is it truly the end of the world, or is it merely sad and disappointing?
4. Now take care of your situation. Once you are in a peaceful state, you can decide what needs to be done? Apology? Let go? Talk? The purpose of talking would not be to convince the other person of the truth of your way. Just let them have their thoughts. You just want them to know yours, and where you are coming from.
The Twelve Step Program has a slogan “Easy Does It”. By taking things easy, you can ensure that you don’t get sidetracked from the path in life that is right for you.
Jehan founded this magazine and www.leadwrite.org to help Muslim women and men learn to stay away from abusers, to strengthen their relationship with Allah SWT and to find better healthier relationships.