“Knowing how the environment is pulling your strings and playing you is critical to making responsive rather than reactive moves.” ~ Ronal Heifetz
Are there ever times in your life when you find that you are overreacting to a situation? Yes, something did occur, but your reaction to the situation is out of proportion to the actual event. Congratulations, the first step to leading a mindful life is awareness and you are demonstrating awareness. The next step is to delve deeper into the your reaction and see if you can find the underlying cause so that the next time something like this happens you won’t have your automatic reaction and you can consciously respond differently which will bring more peace in your life.
Recently, I was attempting to go paddle boarding while I was on a vacation. I tried to go on Wednesday, but the women working at the concession said that since it would be my first time I should wait until Friday when her supervisor was there because she could give me a lesson. She told me to come first thing in the morning as the water is calmer and she called her supervisor and told her my name. On Friday morning I got there a little after 9:00 when they opened to learn that the supervisor had booked a big group at 10:00 AM so I would have to wait until they were done. I really wanted to do this, it was our last day and I was upset. I took a walk around the lake and at 10:00 I did not see anybody go out on paddleboards. I returned at 11:00 when I was told to return and learned that the group didn’t go out until later and wouldn’t be back until 12:30. I knew that afternoons brought wind and I got even more upset. In the end, I did get to go paddle boarding at 12:45 and the water was the calmest it had been all week and I had a wonderful time; it was even better than had I gone out at 9:00 AM It was a positive for me and a positive for the company as they made a lot of money with the big group. But, I had wasted several hours being upset and I was mad at myself. The problem was that I was upset and I was upset beyond what was normal for this situation.
So, I practiced what I know when I have a reaction that isn’t in line with the situation. I meditate on it and I journal about it. It isn’t like I get a big document with the answers clearly explained comes to me, but I get bits and pieces of the answer until it makes sense or until I get to the place where I know the stimulus and I change the response. In journaling, I learned that on vacations when I am super excited about something and it doesn’t work the way “I planned” that I get upset beyond what is normal. I am now aware of this and have realized many things on vacations don’t go as planned – that is normal, it is just like life. I need to go more with the flow, be conscious in my reactions and remember that in most cases things actually worked out better.
Can you think of a recent time when you overreacted to a situation?
Journal about it and see if you can come up with why or at least a plan for the future for what to do if something similar happen.
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
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