By Erin Anderson
Posted in The Real Deal, on March 25, 2015
My dad once described me as having a quick trigger.
I had seen that as a compliment - could be that my success strategy is built on my ability to act quickly. However I had not examined the distinction between quick actions and reactions.
Now I understand that reactions feel like crap. That's the best distinction I can come up with. And the fun part has been noticing how shady responses come in many highly practiced forms; the snarl, the nose up judge, the dramatic eye roll, the loud sigh. Reactive listening can show up differently depending on the situation. There's the cruel and clever response, the sharp sarcastic comment, the full body slump 'n sigh a la tortured teenager and the classic silent but deadly technique. Can you relate?
I've spent some time looking at where I am in reactive listening and how my body sends obvious triggers to let me know "oh oh, you're going down...". My body begins with a tunnel vision, tight throat, heart pounding and numb legs. Smart body! This innate intelligence operation is working hard to send me the message "for goodness sake, DON'T open your mouth right now!!"
Breathe. Count to 10. Hum a little tune.
The power lies in acknowledgement of the reaction and knowing a way to shift into choice. Once the trigger is pulled, it's difficult to stop the bullet.
So before firing, I pull out a secret weapon. He's cute and cuddly and he loves honey. Yup, it's Winnie the Pooh. See the antidote to my particular brand of reactivity is: WWWTPD (What Would Winnie The Pooh Do). In a sticky situation he'd probably say "oh bother..." and "ho hum". This sweet loving creature shifts me every time.
Know when to bust out your secret shifting weapon!
1. Identify areas of your life where you have a tendency to react.
2. Notice your body triggers.
3. Stall the need to deliver an opinion or make a point. Then ask What Would __________ Do?
4. Respond rather than react. Consider that a response may be in silence, the form of a considerate question or establishing a boundary.
Recognize that you are creating in every moment of your life through how masterful you can respond. Reactions are very rarely benign, they have impact. You will have rich and rewarding relationships when you know who YOU are, what you want and what you are creating in this world.
And what better place to truly get to know you than on your mat. Get into a challenging pose and see if there is reactive listening there? Your mat is the most useful personal inquiry pad - dance on it, make a mess, wobble, be confused, feel the feelings, work it out there rather than on the Starbucks Barista :)
I wish you the very best and leave you with this nugget of Pooh wisdom:
“How can you get very far,
if you don't know who you are?
How can you do what you ought,
If you don't know what you've got?
And if you don't know which to do
Of all the things in front of you,
Then what you'll have when you are through
Is just a mess without a clue
Of all the best that can come true
If you know What and Which and Who.”
"Some people care too much, I think that's called love." - Winnie the Pooh