August 27, 2015

Eliminating Negative Reactions that are Draining our Energy.


How to Reduce Stress & Increase Effectiveness

An old anecdote says that if you put a frog directly into boiling water, it jumps straight out. However, if you put a frog in cold water and slowly bring it to the boil, the frog apparently gets used to the increasing discomfort and stays put, completely unaware of what fate it has succumbed to. Tragically, therefore, the frog would slowly boil and die.

The way our minds are slowly but surely conditioned over our lifetime to accept stress, tension and negativity as normal is much like the anecdote of a frog slowly boiling to death without ever realizing anything was wrong and, more importantly, without realizing that there was an alternative—to leap out of the hot water to save itself!

Every person, from the moment they are born, has their mind conditioned to some degree, often without realizing it. We are conditioned by our parents, siblings and extended family, by our schooling system, teachers and peers, by our culture, communities, religions and faith, by our employers, colleagues and workplaces, by our friends and partners, by social media and most intrusively by the most proactive and cunning of all mind conditioners—advertising, news media and politics.

The mind soaks up everything it sees, hears and experiences from day one, does its best to make sense of what it perceives and forms a model of reality based on that. This becomes our version of truth and a paradigm to live from.

Unfortunately, many people, myself included until a few years ago, have a conditioned paradigm which suggests that several toxic human experiences are quite normal, warranted and “just part of life.” This includes one experience which l call painful reaction. This is where “stuff” happens around you and you automatically and unconsciously react in a negative way that isn’t good for you.

Let’s say someone cuts you off in traffic. Your boss asks something unreasonable of you. Your partner doesn’t do the dishes. Your friend doesn’t return your call. The project at work is over budget. Your personal finances aren’t where they need to be. Your phone battery runs dead at an inconvenient moment. It’s raining. The customer service person you spoke to on the phone was rude and unhelpful. You stub your toe. A loved one treats you poorly for no good reason. These are all triggers that generate, in many people, a painful reaction. That reaction is automatic, habitual and unconscious, and ranges in severity from very mild irritation, resistance, complaining or judgement through to full blown stress or anger.

Most people consider painful reaction to be normal and justified. But is it normal? Is it normal because you have always reacted that way? It is normal because everyone else reacts that way? It is normal to feel tension, stress and negativity, and to be subjected to your noisy mind when things don’t go the way you want?

Life doesn’t have to be that way, but first you have to choose that you want a new type of normal.

I made that choice about four years ago, when I couldn’t take my own mind any more, nor the stress, tension and flow on effects of this reactionary way of living. I knew there must be a different way so I took what many people might consider an extreme route to finding my new normal.

Filled with a fear to rival my sense of possibility, I stepped beyond my conservative and limited way of thinking, quit my career in the area of Human Resources and Performance Coaching, sold my home and everything I owned (excluding suitcases) and started travelling nomadically and began exploring new perspectives. This included discovery of what is really true about life and what is just mind conditioning we have been fed, delving into the power of human consciousness and how to use it for optimal ways of perceiving, interpreting and interacting with life as an alternative to the way I had been living.

One invaluable thing I learnt, which helped me to be a frog that jumped out of the pot of boiling water, is that every single time you fall into this type of automatic painful reaction mentioned above, it drains your precious energy. Did you know you only have so much physical, mental and emotional energy to give to this world each day? You know this, because if you over-expend your energy you end up feeling exhausted.

Based on that, the way to live a healthy, happy and productive life is to get really clear on what you want to experience, how you want to do that and then consciously choose what you will give your precious energy to in order to achieve that. Every time you use up your energy quota in painful reactions to triggers that surround you every day, you flush that energy down the toilet.

Some people would say that the types of daily triggers I mentioned above are frustrating and they warrant a painful reaction but we become justified in their reactionary ways. The truth is that no person, situation or circumstance warrants you reacting in a way that harms you. Every painful reaction, no matter how small, harms you. The negativity harms your mind, your emotional system and your body, because all three are woven together inextricably.

The cost of any painful reaction is twofold. First, you and anyone in the firing line suffers the immediate consequences of your negative reaction. Second, there is an opportunity cost for you—what else might you have given your precious energy to instead? What is are more goal-aligned, soul-aligned, meaningful and important to you? Every painful reaction to a trigger in daily life is a distraction from the life you really want to live and is a deviation from the full potential and highest use of your mind.

Choosing to change the way we live, training ourselves not to react to painful reactions and instead choosing peaceful response, is about saying no to playing life small and unconscious, and saying yes to playing a big game and a conscious one.

What I find fascinating is the number one thing I hear people say when they justify their painful reaction as being important or unavoidable—they didn’t want to be a doormat by choosing peaceful response and they needed to express how upset they were about the situation so everyone else was clear about how unacceptable it was. For example, giving the middle finger to the person who cut you off in traffic, snapping back at the customer service person who was rude to you or getting angry at a loved one who treated you poorly.

But the truth is this: peaceful response is not being a doormat, it is being a trailblazer and a waymaker by choosing a new normal for ourselves and representing a different choice. It allows us to be the leader of both our mind and the situation by interrupting unconscious behavior.

The resulting calm which arises in us from choosing peaceful response leaves us better positioned to clearly communicate and navigate our way out of problems and into optimum outcomes. We channel our energy in ways that benefits us.

A simple 3-step practise for this is:

1. Know what specific things trigger you the most in daily life,

2. Be alert for those showing up so you catch yourself before reacting.

3. When faced with triggers take one deep breathe in and out and ask yourself, “With my free will, do I choose to painfully react or peacefully respond?”


Author: Bernadette Logue

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: PDPics/pixabay

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