I never realised you could choose how you react to things. It was always such an automatic response that I’d never given much thought to my reactions. Usually if it’s a good reaction you don’t think too much about it either.
But what if it’s not a positive reaction?
How do you react when someone cuts you up when you’re driving?
Or if the kids refuse to eat their tea?
Or someone’s rude to you on the way into work?
Or even how you react when you look outside and it’s raining just before you’re due to go out?
Do these things throw you off course? Do you get stressed or angry?
I hate to admit it but for many years there was an inner drama queen inside me that would react, often to the extreme. But thankfully I’ve learned that you can choose how you react.
That’s not to say that you can’t feel. Sometimes horrible things happen and it’s right to cry and even scream. But at other times it can be good to become conscious of your reactions.
Last weekend we had an attempted break-in, following an actual break-in last year. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. I felt angry, really angry and I cried.
We’d been away for the weekend when it happened. And there would have been a time when I would have gone in to “it’s ruined the weekend”, “what a great start to the year” etc. etc.
But the truth is it didn’t ruin the weekend. Yes it would have been great if we hadn’t gotten that phone call and had to leave a little earlier than planned. But it was only a little earlier and we’d had a wonderful weekend. Neither does it have to shape my week, month or even the start of my year.
We often react out of habit and we all have triggers. Stress is a great example of this. You can choose what you let effect you. So if the kids refuse to eat their tea after you’ve lovingly prepared it (it happens!!), you can choose to stay relaxed and carry on with your day or the alternative is that you let it get to you.
It does take practice! And if you’re feeling tired or run-down in any way, it’s definitely harder. I know I find it harder.
And that’s not to say you never end up reacting but have a think about what your triggers are.
When can you feel yourself getting stressed? Is it something you think you could change?
Start by being curious about your reactions. Just becoming aware is the first step to making the change. Once you’re aware of how you react then you can change them.
And you can always try pausing, or taking a breath to give you the time to think about how you want to react.