Non-Reactivity: Perspective That Will Make You More Relaxed
Non-Reactivity is not something you just decided to do and master overnight. It takes time and deliberate practice. It is a mindful awareness that helps you to achieve the wanted response.
It is dinner time at my apartment on the only night that James is home from work. Joe and I have made James’ favorite spaghetti dinner with baked garlic bread and salad, and we are just ready to sit down.
The phone rings!
We all stop and look at each other. I feel a tightening in my chest and the blood rushing to my head. I hate the phone ringing! It is one of two things. A bill collector for Freta (someone fraudulently using our phone number) or a family member.
James deals with the phone when he is home because I just don’t want to. He doesn’t deal with it any better than I do, but at least it doesn’t upset him as much as it does me.
Yep, it is for Freta! AGAIN and James tries to explain that this person is using our phone number for the millionth time, and he starts to get mad and raises his voice.
Cue my already anxious Body. Now I am triggered.
I have a choice here. I can get all worked up and start crying because yelling triggers a negative emotion for me from childhood. It doesn’t matter who is yelling at who. If I hear screaming, I am upset.
I can get upset or use the STOP method to become non-reactive. If I choose the STOP method, it looks like this:
S – Stop
T – Take a deep breath
O – Observe the Triangle of Awareness
P – Perspective
Stop, pretty obvious, stop whatever it is that I am doing.
Take a few deep breaths. My breathing accelerates when triggered, and I need to calm it down quickly, or I will hyperventilate.
Observe the Triangle of Awareness. It is to understand what I am thinking, what my Body is feeling, and what my emotions are at that moment.
Perspective is my point of view and how I will react or not react to the situation.
You might be wondering about this STOP method and the Triangle of Awareness. Pretty neat, yes?? I learned about them while researching meditation and how to stop reacting to anxiety.
There was a well know doctor, a psychiatrist, from Vienna, Austria. He was Jewish and survived the concentration camps during the holocaust. He was a brilliant man known to communicate with Sigmund Freud as a teen! He has a famous quote about this subject it is:
I love that!!!!!! It gives me power over the trigger! Think about it!…………
I decided on my response!
Triangle of Awareness
This is becoming aware of yourself.
- Your thoughts
- Your emotions
- Your sensations (Body)
For my example, this is how it would look to me.
My thoughts “Oh my gosh, it’s probably some rude bill collector for Freta again! I can’t believe they keep calling! We said a million times we didn’t know her! Why don’t they stop!!!!”
My Emotions are nervous and anxious mad.
My Body is tense. My face feels hot because blood is rushing to it. My left hand is balled into a fist.
If you stop to observe these things, you can evaluate if it is necessary.
Was my thought helpful to my mental health? no
Are my emotions leading to a healthy mindset? no
Is my body response positive? no
THEN I can change my perspective. I can CHOOSE just to shake my head and keep serving dinner. I can calmy tune out James yelling at the crazy person on the other end of the phone by saying, “he is not yelling at me, and I am safe.”
I can be reactive by being NON-reactive. I am not yelling or crying, or carrying on in any manner.
You might evaluate the same example and come to another conclusion. Just because you paused does not mean you have to be positive.
These calls can be harassing you, and you have had enough. You might yell at the person on the other end because you feel justified.
You can simply choose to hang up and be non-reactive.
Being non-reactive is OK too! You can choose something other than positive or negative. Just let things be.
Sometimes I am non-reactive when
- Someone pulls out in front of me in traffic
- Someone cuts in front of me in the grocery line.
- When I see an annoying commercial on TV
- When I run out of shampoo and have to steal some of James’
Sometimes it is better to remain non-reactive for your mental health and be more relaxed.
Please comment on something that you would like to be non-reactive to and like this post on social media.