Learning How to Control Your Actions and Reactions is Up to You
We arrive at adulthood carrying within us deep scripting from our family of origin. That family includes our immediate circle (mom, dad, siblings), our more extended circle (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins), and our ancestors from many previous generations.
This scripting creates a “way of being” and a “way of acting/reacting” that is largely instinctual and automatic. Our everyday actions and reactions are driven by forces which exist below the level of our conscious awareness. Because it is so deeply ingrained, this genetic scripting is extremely powerful and has a major impact on every aspect of our daily lives. Our functioning arises from two distinct yet intermingled dimensions— a rational or thinking system, and an emotional or feeling system. Every interaction we have is a composite of what we think and how we feel at the moment. When we think someone is trustworthy, we tend to be more open and receptive to that individual. When we feel threatened by someone, even in subtle ways, we instinctively shift into classic defensive modes. We fight, flight, freeze in order to protect ourselves. The stronger our feelings of being threatened, the more likely our emotional self will overwhelm and eclipse our thinking self.
Learning to be a more mature “self” is a lifelong process of trying to keep these two dimensions integrated and in a healthy balance. This process occurs gradually across our lifespan and involves both greater self-awareness and better self-management skills. The more frequently we are able to recognize the interaction between our thinking and feeling selves, and how often they automatically drive our ways of being and acting, the more we are able to have choices in how we respond to the unfolding events of our day. The result, over a lifetime, is that we develop more “self.” We become less and less anxious in the face of threats, we become less reactive, more grounded, more thoughtful, more resilient, and finally, more at peace.
Becoming more of a “self”
- Spend as much time as possible being present to unfolding moments of your life. Learn to watch your own mental processes. Minimize time spent on past regrets and future concerns and devote more and more of your thinking and feeling with attention on the present. Relax. Focus. Be in the Moment.
- Peace of mind is not achieved by working to avoid conflict in life, but rather by learning to deal with life’s conflicts with calm and composure. Peace of mind starts with fully engaging the situations we face daily, making the best of those situations, and then accepting and being present to our current reality.
- Appreciate each day as a miraculous gift. Recognize that whatever happens, the moments of each and every day only come once in your life. Learn to welcome those moments and recognize each of them as the precious gift of life itself. Embrace the days of your life without longing for something else to be true. Accept each day, learn from it, grow from it. Move forward.
Where to begin?
- Throughout the day consider:
- What part am I playing in this situation?
- What is the responsible thing for me to do?
- Then take the steps that your deepest self is urging you to take.