Tag Archives: Reactivity

84. No One Can Make Us Feel Or Behave Inappropriately

No One Can Make Us Feel Or Behave Inappropriately

I recently noticed a post in one of my social media feeds. It started off with, “I hate it when people make me behave badly,” and continued on with the story of being wronged by another, and the justification of their angered behavior that followed. I was a bit surprised by the statement. I continued to read, hoping I could find clarification for such an account, as I know that no one can make us feel or behave inappropriately! That’s completely on us, 100% of the time!

Is Behavioral Responsibility Tied To The One Creating The Offense?

I thought it might be a good topic to address, as this is something I wrestled with for years, and never saw the leading role I was playing in my own theatrical productions, until recently! This can be a difficult concept for us to wrap our heads around, as we often think in very black and white terms regarding emotions and resulting behavior. It’s quite common for individuals who feel victimized to blame their lack of emotional control and ill behavior on another. So many feel they are justified in their responses, and that the responsibility is tied solely to the one who created the offense. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We Have No Control Over The Emotions And Behaviors Of Others

We are all confronted daily with situations that are undesirable, to say the least! We encounter people from all walks of life, experiencing varying degrees of emotional damage and turmoil, that all play a role in the interactions we have with one another. Unfortunately, we have no control over the emotional state or resulting behaviors of others. Yet, we are fully responsible for our own, even when we have been grossly wronged.

What About Trauma At The Hands Of An Abuser?

It never fails that when this topic comes up, it gets quickly and defensively rebutted by someone who has experienced trauma at the hands of an abuser. There’s a lot of triggering that happens when our actions are called into accountability, especially when we’ve been the ones violated in some way by another. Not only does it seem unfair, it often brings a torrent of emotions to the surface that can trigger very heated reactions. I get it, and honestly not that long ago, I would have likely been the person rebutting! I hope what follows will shed some light on this challenging topic, and offer some insights that could change how we think about and respond to these situations in the future. The bottom line is, bad behavior is never justified.

No Longer Being At The Mercy Of Others

There’s a perspective shift that needs to be understood and incorporated, for our emotional state to no longer be at the mercy of other’s actions. Granted, even when we incorporate that shift, we slip up periodically, but the goal is for that to be the exception, not the rule. Part of the difficulty arises when we are unable to separate ourselves from the events that have just taken place. We often make the mistake of assuming the behavior of others is about us, is personal, and tied to circumstances that have just transpired! What follows is another one of those statements that gets refuted quite often, but the reality goes something like this:

The thoughts and behaviors we engage in are always about us and the things we are processing internally, even when we think they are about someone else! The thoughts and behaviors of others are always about what they’ve got going on internally, even when they might mistakenly think it’s about us!

Why? Because contrary to popular belief, no one can make us feel anything! Let me say that again… No one can make us feel anything! Others can only trigger what is already residing within us. No matter how hard someone pushes your buttons, if you do not already have anger in your heart, they cannot trigger anger within you! No matter how deeply someone loves you, they cannot evoke a love response that does not currently exist.

When It’s Internalized It Triggers What’s Already Within

A perfect example would be an unhappy, angry individual (Let’s call him John), yelling at two different people in public (Frank and Mary).

Mary has some anger issues and very poor self-esteem. When she is yelled at, it’s easy to take the assault personally, as she already questions her worth. This is just one more person confirming she’s as awful as she feels! When it’s internalized, it triggers her already brewing emotional instability, and she responds in a way that is also inappropriate. Mary gets angry, feels victimized, becomes defensive, starts yelling back, and returns very similar behavior to John! This is how the cycles of abuse continue.

Frank, on the other hand, has done a tremendous amount of internal work. He’s dissected the false internal narratives and stories that have been embedded and running under the radar for years, and has separated truth from fiction. He knows who he is and is very comfortable in his own skin. He’s learned to love himself, and has great confidence and self-esteem. When Frank is yelled at, he is able to step back from the situation and separate what’s happening from himself. It’s not taken personally, and because he can separate himself from the situation, he can recognize John clearly has some underlying issues fueling this encounter, that have absolutely nothing to do with him. John’s inner struggles have been triggered, and have unleashed rageful behavior on whoever happened to be present. Frank realizes it’s not about him, does not get emotionally involved, and is able to let it go and walk away unscathed. Frank may even experience sympathy for John, as he recognizes John must be a very unhappy individual to treat others in this way.

Mary will likely ruminate on the encounter all day, working up anger and a strong victim mentality, reveling in her justification for striking back in kind. Frank might later tell a friend about the weird encounter he had, but will let it go from there and likely not think about it again. The contrast between Mary and Frank is enormous, as Mary will continue to tell her story, possibly for years to come, to whoever will listen and offer their attention. Our stories are such powerful narratives!

Responding In Protective And Reactive Ways

Let’s look at another example. No matter how much someone loves you unconditionally, they cannot make you feel loved if you don’t already love yourself and foster love within! Remember, the behavior of others can only trigger emotions that already exist within you.

Let’s say Frank has fallen in love with Mary. Remember that Mary has some significant self-esteem, worth, and abandonment issues, among others, that remain unaddressed. No matter how intensely and sacrificially Frank loves Mary, she will likely not be able to accept and/or reciprocate that level of love, as individuals are only capable of meeting us as deeply as they have met themselves! Learning to do the introspective digging necessary to identify, address, release, and heal from past wounding, is what brings us to the places where we find self-acceptance and begin to develop a true love for ourselves. If we fearfully choose to abdicate those responsibilities, and consequently don’t yet know who we are authentically, deep meaningful love is not possible.

What she may feel is attachment, desire, and infatuation (which are often mistaken for love). As more difficulties begin to arise, Frank finds the relationship less and less satisfying. Mary just isn’t able to reciprocate the same depth of interaction and emotional vulnerability, which is not possible from her current state of protection mode. What happens instead is that Mary might sabotage the relationship, as it triggers fears of all sorts (potential abandonment, jealousy, unworthiness, and so many other negative, self-believed, false and embedded narratives). She will continually find herself responding in protective, reactive, but inappropriate ways that guard her fragile heart. Even though Mary longs to be loved more than anything else, until she clears away the embedded false beliefs that leave her in a fearful, protective, reactive state, she will not be able to receive, access, or return the levels of intimacy Frank hopes to engage.

Internal Struggles Impact The Ways We Interact With Others

These are just two of many examples where the internal struggles being experienced impact the way we interact with others. We really have no idea what has happened in the deep recesses of other’s lives. These are often invisible wounds that influence their emotional state and personal interactions significantly! The fact that Mary can’t deeply and freely show love in abandon towards Frank, says absolutely nothing about Frank’s lovability! It speaks only to Mary’s internal, unresolved wounds from the past. Frank may know nothing about her prior wounds, yet he’s healthy enough to be able to recognize these are her issues, not his, and they say nothing about him or his character.

We begin making profound changes in our perspective when we can learn to pull back and separate ourselves from both the situation, and the responses of others. When we finally understand that the reactive, and sometimes damaging, behavior of others is typically generated from already existing pain, it provides the insight we need to not get emotionally embroiled in a battle that is not ours.

We’re Not Completely Off The Hook

Let me clearly state that this doesn’t get us off the hook for carelessly triggering another or pushing their buttons. Though their reactions may not be about us, this doesn’t give us license to negligently or purposefully provoke a response from someone who is struggling. If we find ourselves in this situation, and can determine the response is about inner battles that don’t involve us, we still need to take responsibility and genuinely apologize for triggering an inner issue that resulted in further pain.

The Red Flag Of Blame

Considering what we’ve just discussed, I’ve learned that anytime I catch myself casting blame on another, it’s an immediate red flag that should be investigated further. Just as the original statement in this post was falsely blaming another for their poor behavioral choices, when the red flag of blame comes up, it should be viewed as an invitation and opportunity to identify, process, and release buried emotional debris that is begging to be exhumed! It wouldn’t be coming up again otherwise!

So the next time we find ourselves in the receiving position of someone else’s vitriol, remember to step back and consciously assess the situation before responding. If it triggers reactivity in us, that’s a clear indication we also have some unresolved work that needs to be done.

Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby

78. Protecting From Further Pain

We have to get better at how we treat other people. Lives matter. Words matter. Emotions matter and are valid, even when they’re not understood or agreed with. Most people are going through life simply protecting from further pain. Yet, when we encounter a less than stellar situation with another, how often do we really pursue the underlying pain of their perspective?

We only see what others allow us to see and we never really know all the devastation that has gone on in another’s life behind the scenes. There’s always more to a story than we know and have been made privy to. Even so, it’s far easier to cut losses when things get uncomfortable, than it is to do the work necessary to understand another. In our fast-moving society, that’s just not the easiest path of least resistance. As common slang would say, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Yet investing this time and effort is the very thing that builds the incredible depths of relationship most say they struggle to find.

Hurting people don’t always make the best decisions, as logic isn’t always present when pain is full throttle. More often it’s adrenaline driven and what seems necessary at the time to protect from further wounding. After all, that’s our conscious mind’s greatest role… doing whatever is necessary to protect us from discomfort. When we truly begin to understand that, not only does forgiveness become easier, but compassion blossoms and spills out onto the walking wounded, which in turn helps in the process of those souls healing.

What is needed is love, compassion, grace, understanding, and support. What they need to know is that there is someone out there, no matter what, that loves them and cares enough to engage them, even when they are not their most lovable. Unconditional love is so rare these days. The easiest thing to do is bail and walk away. Don’t be that person.

Seek to understand before judging. Even better, seek to understand and don’t judge at all. Every one of us has pain we are hiding from the world. Some are just better at hiding it than others. The right thing to do is love hard, ask questions, listen intently, & be there. Just that alone can make all the difference in the world to someone who feels lost, alone, and in pain. Most suffer in silence. We may not always be able to eliminate their pain, but we can at least ensure they are not alone as they walk through it. This often very dark world needs many more willing to be love, light, and the voice of compassion.

Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby

77. Finding Clarity In The Muddy Waters

Very few things disrupt our lives the way volatile, reactive emotions can. Let’s face it, we have all found ourselves in that place before, where our emotional reactivity has gotten the better of us, and logic seems nowhere to be found. It can be overwhelming, embarrassing, and at times even all-encompassing. Finding clarity in the muddy waters of emotional turmoil can be challenging, yet it’s necessary if we are to maintain balance in our daily lives.

Lao Tzu said, “Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear.” This is such an important concept, as when we are in the midst of turbulence, the emotional debris within is constantly being shaken. Unless we can pull away, quiet our emotional chatter, and allow things to settle, it will be difficult to find any semblance of clarity.

Quieting our mind typically requires removing ourselves from the epicenter of the storm, where whipping winds keep all the bits and pieces in a flurried, agitated state. Stepping away from the tempest and distancing ourselves to a place where we can observe the disruption, without being directly affected by the winds, allows the debris to settle. It is only then we can make an adequate assessment and determine a proper course of action.

Far too often we attempt to appraise and mitigate our situation while still in the midst of the storm. That would be like sending in an insurance adjuster to determine the amount of damage and payout to an area while the tornado is still on the ground. It isn’t until the system has passed, all the detritus has settled, and the environment is once again stable, that the adjuster can correctly determine what caused the damage, how to begin recovery, and the resources needed to accomplish that goal.

Our personal lives are no different. When we find ourselves in murky waters, making the conscious choice to stay within and ride out devastating emotional storms, rather than retreating to a place of safe observation, sets the stage for far greater damage. Emotional chatter and resistance are often what accompany these rocky rides, continuing to fuel upheaval and keeping our world spinning out of control.

When our minds are reeling, we are incapable of identifying logical solutions to our problems. It isn’t until we withdraw to a place of stillness and quiet that we can adequately see things from an outside perspective, void of emotional entanglement. It is here the true reckoning begins, lessons can be recognized and understood, healing can transpire, and growth and expansion occur.

So what exactly does removing ourselves from the storm entail? Quite simply, it means temporarily removing ourselves from whatever is fueling our discomfort, until clarity and a healthy course of action can be determined. That might mean holding off on a major life decision, or taking a vacation or leave of absence from an unhealthy environment such as work, school, social media, or an activity. Sometimes we need to temporarily distance ourselves from an individual or group of people who are impacting us emotionally, until things can settle and become clear.

Another important factor is getting adequate sleep. Sleep and mood are closely connected. A lack of sleep contributes notably to irritability, increased stress, and anxiety. Once again, logic seems to go out the window when sleep deprivation is present. Sleep is also rest from our resistance. When we’re sleeping, there’s a ceasing of the chatter that accompanies resistant thoughts.

Not all that long ago, I found myself sleeping an inordinate amount. There was an accompanying sense of guilt, as I had a growing list of things I should have been doing instead. I was under more stress than usual and was exhausted from the cerebral calisthenics I was getting caught up in on a daily basis. (See anything wrong with this picture?) I can remember lying on my bed one evening, fighting my urge to sleep. I clearly heard the following instructions, “Stop fighting and sleep. When you are sleeping, you are not resisting me and I can accomplish far more when you’re in this state.” MIND BLOWN! I recognized at that moment that sleep was not the enemy, but rather a very useful tool that played a significant role in my ability to process without resistance. To this day, when I feel the need to sleep, I do so, no questions asked.

Perspective is everything, and our perspective changes dramatically depending on where we are standing. As I take a necessary step back and consider some of my more recent emotional storms, I’m thankful that I’m finding clarity, proper perspective, and healthy way forward that lends to greater depth and understanding of both myself, and those I interact with.

Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby

55. Living With No Resistance And No Attachment

no-resistance

 

To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness. This state is then no longer dependent upon things being a certain way, good or bad. ~Eckhart Tolle

We Have A Choice In How We Choose To Respond

Learning to live with no resistance is challenging to say the least. Yet, it’s a skill I intend to continue working towards mastering. Every single day, situations occur in our lives that trigger emotional responses. We have a choice in how we choose to respond. Our head is often the first in line in terms of reactivity, constantly advising us to close off our hearts, build highly reinforced walls, and protect from pain. Sabotage is typically the order of the day, as if we pull away from and damage relationships or situations ourselves, we no longer have to worry about pain at the hands of another.

Choosing Safety And Protection Over Love And Light

When we create resistance to the circumstances in our lives, those protective behaviors keep us from experiencing the grace, ease, and lightness that could so easily be our gifts. The very things we long for are often shuffled away by our own hand, as we choose safety and protection over love and light. I choose to turn away from the reactivity of the mind, and remain fully open, no matter the risk.

Our Hearts Carry The Voice We Should Be Heeding

Our hearts carry the inner voice we should be heeding. The heart beckons us to remain vulnerable and open. Even in discomfort and with risk of potential pain, the heart knows that to fully love and be in a state of ease, we must be laid bare and release perceptions and judgment, which are often finite, faulty, and solely credited to the protective mind.

It Is In Attachment That Fear Becomes Our Master

How does one go about remaining open and not closing off the heart, when fear of impending pain strikes swiftly? It is in attachment that fear becomes our master. The head is ruled by fear, the heart by love. In allowing ourselves to love unconditionally no matter what, while releasing any attachment to outcomes, we are able to engage the highest form of love and disengage the role of the fearful mind. The moment we judge good or bad, safe or risky, we conditionally tie our willingness to love to potential risk and outcomes. This produces nothing but discomfort, fear, and anxiety, which often precipitate damaging, reactive behaviors.

What Is Our Inner Dialog Saying?

It is in recognizing our inner dialog, whether coming from a place of fear (head) or love (heart), that we begin identifying what is ruling us. We can then begin implementing strategies to shift away from the protective mind, and to the always open and loving heart.

When The Heart Leads, The Mind Is Relaxed

In the book, “The Heartmath Solution,” we learn that when we allow our hearts to lead, our minds become more relaxed and anxiety actually decreases. It’s quite the opposite from what the fearful mind continually warns us.  Our mind is constantly reinforcing false beliefs that cause us to want to remain in an isolated, protective mode.

Releasing Others From Responsibility

It is only through doing the deep, internal soul work, that we are led to a place of understanding that only we are responsible for our own happiness, contentment, and feelings of being complete. We can then release others from these responsibilities and any sense of attachment. In doing so, we allow ourselves to love fully, with hearts wide open, maintaining complete vulnerability, and releasing the fears that attend the belief others have a say in our happiness and outcomes. Others can certainly accompany us along our journey and add immeasurably to our quality of life, yet the choice of whether or not to be happy resides with us alone.

Are We Acting In Love, Or Reacting In Fear?

There are only 2 forces at work in this universe… love and a lack thereof. The next time we feel ourselves shutting down or closing off in the face of potential fears, we need to stop and ask, “Are we acting in love, or reacting in fear?” It’s important to recognize that when we truly act in unconditional love, with no attachments and no expectations, there is nothing we stand to lose and our heart can only expand. It is only when expectations fail, that we become disappointed, wounded, and pained. I choose unconditional love, and when fear does pop up from time to time, I choose to dismiss it and love unconditionally and fiercely anyway.

Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby