Article written by Stephen Brown
How many times have you said or done something you later wished to take back?
Reaction to the perception of threat can push us into troublesome actions. Our bodies are biologically hardwired to avoid, or to defend against, what appears to be a threat and our bodies do not question whether the threat is real or in our imagination. Before we know it, our bodies are tensing up and shortly after that we are moving into action.
Such action could include changes in our breathing pattern, raising our voice, aggressive gesturing or perhaps shrinking away.
When we don’t like what is happening to us we are typically either getting bigger, (defensive posture) or getting smaller, (avoidance posture). These automatic, and often unconscious reactions can interfere with being responding effectively to that unique moment.
Reactions are based on past experience and tend to be habitual. They interfere with accurate perception of the circumstances of the present and with choosing how to respond to what is happening. The good news is that with practice we can do better.
What Can We Do To Reduce Negative Reactions?
There is a simple move that can, with some practice, serve us well in altering such reactions.
We can learn to let go and release tension rather than continue to allow it to result in saying or doing those things we later regret.
Consider how a sailboat gets moving. Energy in the form of wind hits the sail. If there is nothing to hold the sail against the force of the wind then the wind
will push it aside and there will no movement. If there is a line to hold the sail against the push of the wind then the resistance to the force of the wind will produce movement in the sail boat.
So, we can see if there is no resistance there will be no movement and vice versa. Where there is resistance there will be movement. Now, if we consider an emotional response to be the activation of energy in our body and physical tension to be a form of resistance then we can see
how emotion becomes action. Action that is at times regrettable.
Take a moment to scan your body for any indication of tension that can be eased. Notice that as we ease our tension we let go our resistance and the energy of emotion passes by without pushing us into action. We can observe our energetic response without being pushed.
With some mastery of this practice we can then learn to observe the push of our emotional activation to better understand and make effective choices.
Learn more about negative emotions, what they are and how to control them.
Wouldn’t that be better than continuing to say or do those things we later regret?
If you are struggling on how to make more effective choices and reduce negative reactions, we are here to help. Get in touch with one of our counsellors today.