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React or Respond

I believe that good comes from all things. Sometimes we know this and other times it takes a while for us to see it. All of our experiences bring us closer to becoming whole and who we really are. All parts of us, the ones we like and the ones we think we left behind, play a part in who we are today. I have learned to recognize when the parts I thought I left behind emerge and how to respond in a loving way.

Do you ever get upset about something and fly off the handle, snap at someone, or make a nasty comment only to wonder later why you reacted the way you did? Where did that come from? I know I have done my share of reacting. It seems like it always ended up with me wishing I hadn’t done it and feeling powerless to change. I would think ‘where did that come from? Why would that make me upset, that’s silly to let that bother me.’ Those things are triggers.

Things that bring up emotion in us can trigger us into reacting in ways we wouldn’t normally act.  Those reactions are rarely about what’s going on in that moment. Something someone says or does can take us back to a time when we felt powerless or out of control. That trigger takes us back there so fast we don’t have time to stop our emotion from coming out sideways, being expressed in undesirable ways.

What if we’re reacting from our little girl who didn’t feel safe or loved? Or our teenage girl who didn’t feel understood? Or the twenty year old that made decisions that she wouldn’t make knowing what she knows now. What if those emotions came up to show us places we have wounds?  All those parts of us are inside us and can take over without us knowing when we feel threatened and that’s why we react.

I have found that reacting takes a lot of energy and leaves me with regrets. I have let the parts of me take over that don’t know what I now know. When I hold myself back from doing what I want to do, it’s my little girl who doesn’t feel safe that is in control. It’s not the fifty-eight year old that has learned to give herself what she needs.

When fear comes up, I have learned to pause and kindly let my little girl know that I’ve got this and that she doesn’t have to worry. I’m learning to be as kind and gentle with myself as I would a four year old. I give myself the same grace I would anyone else. As I have done this consistently, I felt different about myself and my relationships changed. I allow the woman that I am today to lead my life, giving my wounded parts a well-deserved rest.

When we change the world changes.

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