Being Aware of the Way We Respond in the World

For the past three plus months our house has been undergoing reconstruction due to water damage. We first noticed the maple floor in our bedroom was cupping. As we looked around we discovered stains that looked like there had been a waterfall coming down our entry wall.

We called our insurance company and they sent people out. We thought it would be a couple of weeks and all would be well. As they began opening walls, they discovered that the damage was extensive and had obviously been slowly happening over years.

As I said, we have been dealing with this for over three months, and have now been in hotels for over three weeks.

When I tell my friends – or have to turn away clients – I often get a response such as, “Doesn’t that make you …..” or “That would make me so….”  (Fill in the blanks with angry, frustrated, upset, scared, and so forth).

They are reflections of how they anticipate they would respond to the situation. How do they know they would react that way? Because that is their habitual “modus operandi”.

It happens to all of us, most of the time. We have set responses for things that happen to us throughout the day.

Ask yourself how you would react if:

  • Someone cuts you off in traffic.
  • Your child brings home a bad grade on a test.
  • A guest breaks an heirloom.
  • Your child has a high fever.
  • Your parent grows elderly and requires constant attention.
  • A friend forgets they promised to accompany you to an event.
  • You are required to take a test.
  • You are offered a food you have never eaten before.

The list can go on and on.

Daily we are bombarded with opportunities to react. It would become too time and energy consuming to stop and think about how to respond each time.

Responses become habits, and habits are mostly unconscious. Raising our awareness and consciousness, requires we pay attention. When we notice a knee-jerk reaction, we can evaluate whether it serves our lives in the most positive and life-supporting way.

The first step in changing the way we respond in the world is to be aware. Pay attention to your responses throughout the day.

  • How many are you pleased with?
  • Which are responses you learned from your parents behaviors?
  • Do any reactions cause you regret or embarrassment later?
  • Do they support or sabotage your higher goals?
Practice your awareness and evaluate your effectiveness. In the next blog entry, we will discuss steps to changing the habitual reactions that no longer serve you.