In the Meantime: Reacting and Responding


I have many clients ask me about what they should do as they are integrating new insights they gained and have yet to implement them into their outside world. It takes time for all of us to incorporate new understandings into our lives. As we are thinking about, and working on new insights internally how do we go about our lives relating to those we care most about without making our old reacting patterns? That is such a good and important question. The comfortable, simple answer is that we don't. We do react in our old habitual ways as they are almost automatic; they are so familiar.

What I find happens most of the time is we respond habitually, and then we think about what we did and why we got triggered the way we did. Our immediate response is automatic, and then we can have the leisure to work out what just happened. I wish change were more immediate, but most often it is not. What I can do, however, is give someone some suggestions as to how they can stave off more aggressive reactions.

IN THE MEANTIME I can give suggestions while the clients can then quietly work through their triggers and traumas until they find they aren't as triggered by certain events, words, a tone of voice, and so on. The meantime here is the quiet internal work no one sees and knows about except for the client.

Instead of yelling or running off in a rage or retreating, or seething, or blaming, or throwing things, or sobbing, for example, the client can tell themselves or the person they care about that this is about them and not you, and that they need time to work this through until they can talk. In other words, they can communicate that they are triggered, it is about them, and they will take responsibility for themselves and their reactions and actions. And if they feel out of control, they can leave and take time alone until they can communicate what is going on in them.

No one teaches intercommunication skills in school. That would be such a great course to teach.  By communicating to the other and taking responsibility for one's actions and words the other can have an opportunity not to be so triggered in response, and words and recriminations can be avoided. This gives time and space to both people so that they can, in their own time, come to understandings and ways to respond in an entirely different way. This gives space to the meantime to occur inside of us and for us to create new ways of reacting and being.

Exercise:
Think about how this could go for you. Who and what do you tend to react and overreact too? Think of an example. Maybe instead of overreacting and creating an argument and taking something personally, you could do something different. How might that look for you? What might you say or do instead? Write down what comes to you.

Now, here is an example of a mantra you might say to yourself which might help. This is not personal. This is not about me. It just feels like it is. What was about me or felt like it was about me in the past is in the past. I choose to learn to respond differently now.

Read this over a few times and breathe it in.  See if you feel any different. Try this a few times each time you realize you are triggered. This gives you the internal time and space for you in the meantime to be specific healing time it changes for you.

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