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Reactivity – Don’t Let Your Automatic Actions Control You

In this world of over-stimulation, my nature is reactive. It always has been, even before we had so much visual input and interruptions in our lives my first instinct was always to lash out before I stopped to consider. It begins inside, like a spark which triggers an instant movement, thought or feeling which is usually, immediately followed by an action with no thought. There is no space between the trigger and the reaction.

This space is important. There is great power in this space. Imagine the great tragedies which could have been prevented if people stopped to think instead of reacting immediately?

Quick action does indeed have a place in the world but so does thought and deliberateness.

How do we go from trigger-feeling-reaction to trigger-feeling-pause / think-reaction? We need to create and cultivate space to allow it to expand, grow and develop.

It’s just like decluttering your desk or tidying your home. It can be achieved in different ways but the end goal is to give your mind space to sit down and think about what to do next.

And just like decluttering your home or your desk, take the time to notice the work that needs to be done. Where is the clutter?

Let everything settle and listen to yourself. You will soon see where the issues are, where the cleanup work needs to start. It is like taking all the obsolete information off your computer’s hard drive. What burdens do you need to carry and what can you put to one side or drop completely?

I sometimes find it useful to just sit with my thoughts, almost like the opposite of meditation, I set a timer and sit. I do not allow myself to move or interact with anything but let my mind wander. I let it go where it goes and interact with the thoughts as much as I wish. It helps me see where my worries are and where the internal housekeeping is needed. This can show up in the form of unfinished tasks, worries which have been weighing on my mind or someone I need to contact. The best way to clear them away is to act on them, immediately. If that’s not possible, then schedule a time. This will help create the space.

I will not go into meditation on this blog as we have both written on it before but I cannot recommend it enough. It has changed my life and helped create the space I need for calm, consideration and right action. Have a look at the bottom of the post for some blogs we have written on meditation.

Just like the unfinished tasks I mentioned, unhealthy habits will fill space also. Too much screen time, too much artificial stimulation, bad diet. When I talk about filling the space, I do not mean taking up your time, your time is important but what I mean is bad habits taking up space in your mind. Filling your quiet space with additional unimportant information or data which cannot be cleared out without deliberate action.

It is when we reach a point of no capacity that we no longer have the objectivity to stop and analyze.

We all have bad thoughts (at least I hope I’m not the only one) whether it be anger towards a stranger, judgement towards someone we know nothing about based on their appearance, impatience, selfishness or whatever arises at the time.

These thoughts do not define who we are. It is what we do with these thoughts that defines us. It is how we react and act on our thoughts and impulses that shows who we are as people. We can only be judged by our actions. Someone cuts me off in traffic and I have an urge to honk and pull up alongside them to extend the all useful middle finger and wave it in their direction.

The impulse is there, but so is the choice. I have the choice of whether to act on that impulse or not. If I do not have that space or use that space, I will not make that choice, I will simply keep going and do what automatically happens. I will become a slave to my automatic self.

I am still a victim of my own reactivity, I recently tore one of my favourite hoodies apart just because I did not pause and consider. Incidents like this happen much, much less now but what this shows me is that I still have to work on creating, maintaining, seeing and using that space. You can read my blog on my anger issues if you are interested.

Working on creating this space allows me to take the time and pause before I react. The reaction can be intentional rather than automatic. The feeling, impulse or thought will pass quickly, within a couple of minutes then it will be forgotten but if I act on it I will carry it with me.

Here are a few simple tips to cultivate, maintain and use that space. I hope it helps.

  • Spend time with your thoughts. Search for what needs to be cleared out.
  • Meditate daily to cultivate and maintain the space.
  • Use the space: Stop and examine the feeling or impulse. Think.

Let me know if you have any feedback or if you find yourself in a similar situation to me.

Peace,

George

 

Links:

How can we put down the burdens we carry?

meditation-challenge-40-day-sadhana-your-habits-define-you

a-daily-meditation-practice-make-it-work-for-you

meditation-it-takes-two-minutes

how-i-overcame-my-anger-issues

 

 

 

 

Cover photo by Javardh on Unsplash

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

Photo by Keegan Houser on Unsplash

Responsibility – Passing The Torch To Future Generations

I am about to become a father. My life is about to change in less than three weeks and it will never be the same again. I will think and behave differently. I will be reborn a new person and my life’s purpose will have changed forever. Everything I do will be for my family.

What is our ultimate goal as a parent? Is it to give our children the best life we can possibly give them? To prepare them for the long road of life ahead? To be there for them and care for them all along the way? All of the above, and much more I believe, but how does that translate on a global scale as a race?

We must leave the next generation in a better position. That is not to say that we give them materialistic wealth, but it is our responsibility to pass on knowledge, kindness and responsibility through example.

I believe it is our purpose in life to wake up, not as individuals, but as a race. This may not happen for a long time but it is in progress and we must work together to guide both those around us and those who will come after us to find our strength and our kindness.

The individual must act as part of the collective and the collective must embody the individual.

We will never lose our individuality, but as individuals working together, we make a strong collective.

We have seen great leaders in the past who have shone like beacons to guide us and future generations – Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammad, more recently, Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela.

There are those who are in positions of power today who are using that power to move us in the right direction.

They may not necessarily be enlightened but they are in a position to guide others and inspire future generations through example and guidance.

I believe that we have passed from the collective childlike state as a species in the last few generations and that we are ready to follow a path of change, care and responsibility.

We have leaders everywhere. Look around you now and you will see people leading by example. The woman who picks up the trash she did not drop. The man who smiles and acknowledges the homeless person.

We need to look up and become aware of the example around us that can help us reach our goals as a race, and in turn we can become those leaders and role models we need to be by working together through kindness. We can spread our example throughout our peers and instil it in the next generation.

As a species we have gone through life in a slumber. We were too immature to notice our actions towards each other and towards our surroundings.

We were children but now we are growing up. An awakening has started and we are ready to take on the responsibility of care, which is ours by default due to our intelligence. If we do not act, then who will?

We must take up the mantle of responsibility and kindness and share it among ourselves until it spreads like a spark in dry brush. We must pass it onto the next generation.

George Bernard Shaw said that “Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

Reality is in our grasp. It is there for us to see, beyond this screen. It is in front of us, we just need to look up and see it.

That is the first step.

Look up and meet someone else’s eyes. They are the leaders of the new world and you are their teacher. And Vice Versa. Together we are wakening up, to spread kindness and integrity and wield it like a shield to protect all life.

This is our responsibility as we are the most intelligent form of life that we know of. We are the only ones that have the power to come together to make all the difference. We have the power and it is our responsibility to use it wisely for the sake of our home and as Shaw says, pass the splendid torch onto future generations.