Use Mindfulness To Respond Instead Of React

We spend much of our time just reacting to events and others in our lives. As a reaction tends to be a an instinctive action or gut reaction often based upon fears, insecurities and vulnerabilities they tend to feature little or no thought. As this is not usually the most appropriate, rational or logical way to act it often leads to unhappy results that often make the current situation worse. Events and people are in our lives all the time and there will always be times when something will bother you enough to cause a reaction but what you should be striving to achieve now, is how to respond in a thoughtful, calm, compassionate and cooperative manner instead of just thoughtlessly reacting.

RESPOND; DON’T REACT.
LISTEN; DON’T TALK.
THINK; DON’T ASSUME.
RAJI LUKKOOR

By being mindful more often you are more likely to earlier identify emotions as they start to build and be prepared to control a resulting reaction more effectively. In an ideal world you can totally inhibit any negative reactions, but even just being mindful enough to identify that you are reacting will often be enough for you to be able stop the reaction continuing and limit any potential damage.

A level of emotional intelligence is required to be able to identify and distinguish between emotions however most of us have enough to know whether the emotions being experienced at any given time feel good or bad. Knowing you’re feeling a bad emotion is a sign that you should be preparing to control a reaction that may come.

YOU CAN’T CONTROL
THE WAVES,
BUT YOU CAN
LEARN TO SURF.
JON KABAT-ZINN

Controlling emotional reactions requires an intention to do so. If you have no intention to control your reactions you effectively hand control of those reactions to other people or outside events. You are effectively walking around the world we all live in out of control! You may believe that you are in control when you react, if this is the case you can easily prove this to yourself by choosing not to react next time. If you cannot inhibit the reaction you are not in control.

You may not believe that reacting is a bad thing. It’s true, sometimes a reaction does not have any negative effects and may even result in a positive outcome. However if you are not inhibiting your reactions you are removing any control over the outcomes to your reaction altogether.

While you are reacting you often become irrational and you cannot think with enough clarity to assess whether the reaction is proportional and warranted. By exercising control to inhibit the reaction you are not surrendering your option to respond in the same way as you would have reacted, you are just ensuring you are considering how to respond to achieve the outcome you ultimately want.

By being more mindful and being present more often you are more likely to identify situations that will lead to emotions that have reactions that need controlling. As you are paying more attention to the current moments you are less likely to be caught out or surprised by situations that will trigger these kind of emotions and consequently their reactions. Being mindful will more likely lead to you changing the course of conversations and actions through being kinder, less judgmental and more compassionate.

FEELINGS COME AND
GO LIKE CLOUDS
IN A WINDY SKY.
CONSCIOUS BREATHING
IS MY ANCHOR.
THICH NHAT HANH

 

John Burley

John Burley lives in Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom and is the author of Mindfulness for the Mindless due for publication on 2nd April 2018. He is also the director of a software development company producing software solutions to mainly the gaming industry. He blogs about mindfulness at www.amindfulway.blog which has a growing following both on the blog itself, the accompanying Android app and on social media too.

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