Wednesday, April 14, 2021

What's Your Response?

Three men are traveling on a ship when they are accosted by the Devil. The Devil proposes that if each man drops something into the sea and he cannot find it, he will be that man's slave. If the Devil does find it, however, he will eat that man up. 

The first man reacts by immediately slipping off his Rolex watch and dropping in the ocean, confident of his choice. Poof, he disappears, eaten by Satan. The second man quickly drops a pure, clear diamond into the ocean, sure this cannot be found; and poof, he's gone, eaten up by the evil horned essence. 

The third man, not one to react quickly, thinks a moment, contemplating the situation and his life. He then fills a bottle with water and calmly pours it into the sea. Smiling, he turns to the Devil and says, “Try finding that!" 

Did you ever wish you would have responded versus reacted to a situation, comment, or condition? Or be able to take back the snark or yell or cursing or worse? Some people think that the words "react" and "respond" are synonyms, but to me, they are practically antonyms.

When I react to something, it's instantaneous, without thought, usually driven by lingering biases or fueled by some defense mechanism projecting my old stories or insecurities. It is subconsciously full of blame and I end up taking it out on the other person. This reaction has some unconscious survival theme to it using words or actions I come to regret.

A reaction usually comes from a short-sighted, sometimes aggressive, or out-of-control impulse. We might freeze, flinch, run away, or even want to physically fight someone - i.e. a Fight or Flight Reaction! Our stress is high, cortisol is running rampant, and you might shake or sweat as your hackles are up. You may have been triggered by the conversation to expose things you are in denial about or things you have repressed or regressed, stuff you have put away and rationalized. For example, say your boss yells at you, but you don't yell back, and later take it out on your partner by yelling at them over something stupid. Or you may blurt stuff out because you have intellectualized or compartmentalized a past hurt and the conversation triggered that memory. Reacting can be a dangerous answer to a situation.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.  ~Victor Frankl

Responding, on the other hand, is a conscious, intentional, purposeful answer where we utilize our mindfulness skills before speaking or acting. Here, we are able to get beyond the emotion and into the information; more likely producing a calm, value-centered, and connected solution. It’s important to acknowledge that this is a skill that requires repeated practice. And that’s okay! Our journey in these bodies is always going to be an adventure, unfolding. 

I understand that it's doesn't always seem possible to respond versus react when in a stressful event full of triggers. If you feel threatened or hurt, your brain and body have what I call unnatural natural reactions that are coming from your stories, perspective, opinions that too often are hiding, waiting for the opportunity to get triggered and lash out from.

It is the goal of this philosophy to move towards interacting with ourselves, others, and the world from a more centered and peaceful place. That's part of the job of the guided meditations, affirmative incantations, and prayer; by becoming grounded, centered, mindful through spiritual practices, and remembering who we truly are. In fact, in these reactive-prone situations, your spiritual and mindfulness practices become the precursor to your use of responsive answers and actions in a situation.

Before I give you some tools to use, I want to say that we can use our reactions to observe what the heck is in our way from our skills in manifesting, moving forward, or getting healthy. They are an insight into the junk ideas, old stories, and perspectives that are blocking our bliss. So don't get down on yourself, use your reactions as a learning tool, along with the following:

This responding tool is called PLACE.

Pause, Label, Ask, Choose, Express

1. Pause

You know the MAD TV sketch with Bob Newhart as the psychiatrist who uses his fancy education to tell his patient, after her victim-filled rant, to just "STOP IT." Though the sketch is funny, especially to fans of The Bob Newhart Show, it's a reactive answer to her situation and yet, in the end, not a bad response. Of course, the more proper course would be to take her through the stories, asking questions, guiding her to come up with realizations and answers herself.. All of which would lead her and most of us to "stop it." Maybe it was a cry for that fictional psychiatrist to take a vacation and get refreshed in order for him to "stop it," stop reacting and begin responding again to his patients. At the very least, he needed to remember to PAUSE

The moment you notice you are triggered and that your energy has changed, take a moment to pause and breathe.

2. Label Your Emotions

Name it. What you’re feeling? is it anger, frustration, sadness, grief? Identifying how we feel helps us process our emotions. After all, it's our emotions that are getting in our way. So, label them, realize what's going on with you. It will take the heat off the matter.

3. Ask Yourself: Why?

You've paused and labeled, now ask yourself, "Why was I triggered? What was it that triggered me?" This can bring awareness to what is under the surface for you. It might not be what the person said that upset you (probably wasn't at all), but that it was a reminder of a different memory that sparks an unresolved emotion in you. Or perhaps you're just more sensitive today than yesterday, feeling unwell, or had a bad day, etc. The big question for yourself is "how can you best communicate what will best serve the discussion all are involved in at this moment?"

4. Choose A Mindful Response

This is the big one! Consider the labeled emotion(s) and discover the trigger before you choose what’s important to share about your experience. Choose to communicate the answer which is connected to the situation at hand, not your old stories. A response is not harmful or unproductive. A reaction most probably will be.

5. Express

When we think big picture, we put the situation in context. When we blend logic with our emotions and balance those immediate emotional responses with thoughts and facts, we fill in the blanks of what's reactive and what is responsive. Recognize your choices, and create a 20/20 vision (an imagined 20/20 vision, yes) to determine your best response to the current situation. We answer with thought rather than emotion, care versus haphazardness, mindfulness instead of fear, and all with love, not hate or anger.

The man who is asleep reacts; he knows nothing of action. And reaction is a binding: it binds you into new prisons, new chains. Response is out of freedom, hence it brings more freedom. Reaction is out of the past; you act according to your memories, built-in by your experiences, conditionings. You react not to the present, not in the present. You don`t reflect the real situation as it is; you go on interpreting it according to your past, your past experiences. The man who is awake is like a mirror: he reflects that which is the case. HE IS AWAKE.   ~Osho Rajneesh

Our best prayers, our most powerful meditations, and our greatest manifestations come from an absence of fear, chaos, desperation, and destructive emotions. Let us take away our old stories from the conversations with ourselves, others, and ultimately Spirit and replace them with thoughtful intentions, awakened purpose, and the energetic frequency of fulfillment. Move the energy of your conversations with a love of life and the Light of the Divine. Then watch your experiences glow with peace, prosperity, and ease.

Affirmative Incantation

I look from my deepest Source

I look at infinite and prosperous possibilities

And I look to a world where peace, Oneness, love, freedom, and appreciation reign.

Today I declare these ideas as the way I experience my life. And attract others who live this same divine, succulent, lovely, and sane vitality. I celebrate grace, ease, and gratitude as I sing the body electric and I dance the Song of Songs.

From the morning's dew till the night's slumber gongs, Spirit guides me to my best. 

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