So, something happens—and you don’t like it.
It feels anywhere between “off” to full-blown malicious and unfair!
You feel victimised. Attacked. Hard done by. Bullied. Treated unfairly. Misunderstood.
So you react—justifiably. Or not.
Either way, you vent. Or you call them and have a go. Or you become a keyboard warrior. Or you post about it. Or you cut them out. Run. Hide. Retreat. Cancel. Ghost. Shrink back. Or you change your behaviour to “show them.”
And you put all your energy into that—without a second thought.
Because it hurts! You’re angry! And someone has to listen. Someone has to pay! And you have to change this right now!
I get it. I’ve been there. I can still fall into this sometimes.
But, the tough, honest truth is:
This only hurts us.
This holds us back.
This causes terrible decisions.
This is unproductive.
And it has everything to do with why we’re not where we want to be:
in our fitness/health goals,
in our parenting goals,
in our relationship goals,
in our business goals,
in our career goals,
in our squad goals.
Wait. What the hell has (justifiably or not) blaming and being reactive got to do with how often I hit the gym and what I eat? With my boo or my friends or my job?
Everything. And here’s why:
When that someone or something happens, our brain is doing something very specific. It’s perceiving danger. It’s shutting down executive decision-making. It’s shutting down our rational mind. And we’re also crossing over into the realm of “fight or flight” behaviour. In our caveman days, this meant kill them or run!
This is our primitive brain. Not our smart, rational, healthy, decision-making brain of the 21st century.
The feelings of fight or flight, of anger and upset can be the following:
This is normal, and it happens to all of us. But when we become reactive in this way, we’re fighting, fleeing, and making decisions with the mind of a monkey.
We’re creating chaos and displaying a lack of control (whether “they” deserve it or not). We’re allowing ourselves zero time to process if this is how we really feel, or if, instead, it’s a misinterpretation or miscommunication based on links to past experiences that hurt us. We’re lashing out with our first idea, rather than our best idea, often in ways that can’t be easily taken back. We’re displaying to others an unstable, uncontrolled appearance—and, quite frankly, acting like a d*ckhead.
To add to this, we’re reinforcing our go-to coping strategies with every indulgence in reactivity. This means that every time we do it, we’re much more likely to do it again by default.
And we’re using so much energy to do this! Maybe even dwelling on it for hours, days, or weeks, instead of letting it go and getting back to the good stuff.
We only have a finite amount of energy to expend. What we use it on creates patterns in our brain that become our personality. When we indulge in low-rationality behaviour, we use that energy in pointless ventures (because no one really responds well to reactivity) and steal energy from the healthy, productive activities we would like to be doing.
We also sever valuable opportunities in:
You attract what you are; healthy people don’t engage well with reactive people and will distance themselves from you, leaving you to attract only other reactive people.
Employers won’t appreciate reactivity in the workplace. In a business, you will lose clients, partners, and other possible connections.
Love and relationships
The only relationships that last in this reactive state without change are toxic and include two reactive, unprogressive people.
When we behave with blame and reactivity, and constantly justify it, we are in a continuous state of mind that blocks all personal growth.
Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that people don’t hurt us sometimes, or that we should just magically get over it when they do.
It simply means this:
If we can learn to recognise when we are having a reaction to something like this, and understand that this is not the time to respond, this will make a huge difference to our lives.
Stop. Breathe. It’s going to be okay.
Feel. Ask yourself: What are the physical symptoms this is causing in my body right now? What is my energy like right now? Why, without using definitive language, is this happening?
Get it out. Run, do push-ups, attack a punching bag, scream into a pillow, dance. Get the energy out.
Process. Meditate, journal it out, practice mindfulness, write down the triggers, the lessons, and the positive steps forward.
Take action. From a rational state of mind, once calm, how can this be resolved? Does something need to be communicated? Are all parties receptive? Who do you need to seek counsel from in order to resolve this? What is the next step?
Reflect. What did this result in? What did you learn? How did this go? How would it have gone differently if you hadn’t been reactive?
If everyone learned and practiced this method, imagine the world we would live in.
It takes loads and loads of practicing to master this. It’s 10 times easier to talk about it when calm—and infinitely harder to practice in a moment of upset.
It takes constant work, consistent reinvestment of time and effort, and a forever-student mindset.
And it’s okay, really. We’ve all been hurt before. Sometimes that makes us perceive things in a particular way—or maybe “they” really are trying to be malicious.
But that is their issue. Their pain. Their energy.
Don’t take that sh*t on. It’s not yours.