One of the ways we keep ourselves locked into a dis-empowered position in our own life is through the tendency to believe that other people are the ones who “do things to us” beyond our control, and by always focusing on the other person in a situation while making what’s happening all about us somehow. We get emotionally triggered by something someone says or does and we instantly react by going unconscious and playing out the natural tendencies we’ve been conditioned with. We focus our attention on what we imagine the other person is “doing to us” by how they’re being and a whole preconditioned script begins playing out in our mind as our “perception” of the situation. We glaze over the object reality and what is in fact a neutral event and replace it with a subjective reality of our own making that we imagine to be real. The story we begin running through our mind forms our interpretation of it as an illusion born out of our past conditioning. Anytime we’re “reacting”, we’re instantly overcome with an emotional state that “takes over”, and we begin playing out our “issues” of the past in the present. We replace the current reality with a belief that shapes how we experience it through the story we tell ourselves about it that gives it meaning.
There’s always a fundamental paradox playing out where we tend to focus all of our attention on the other person or external events and circumstances going on, while simultaneously telling ourselves a story that makes it all about us. Because of this natural tendency we form a belief around the idea that others are deliberately doing things to us that are beyond our control. They “make us” feel the way we do. Then, whatever they say about or to us we take personally and form a belief about ourselves out of the story we tell ourselves about it that explains, describes, and justifies it, and as a result, we use it as the means of shaping ourselves. This is the most natural way we’re shaped by other people without realizing it. We form a belief that others can attack, hurt, traumatize, betray, put us down, and basically control and determine us through their actions. We do this usually without ever realizing that this is actually something that we’re doing to ourselves in response to them.
Looking at the Nature of Reactive Behaviors
All reactive behaviors come from an emotional trigger of some kind that instantly transforms us to an unconscious state where we begin acting out and creating the reality of our “issues”. It’s our conditioned behavior and model of the world that forms our perceptual lens and gives us an “instant reality” that we use in place of the current reality. As we’re being stimulated somehow, our mind immediately references all memories of the same feelings and emotions, and associates them to the current situation by saying “this is the same as that”. We give the present the same meaning as the past, which produces instant behavior through the story we tell ourselves about it, and act to produce the same type of reality as a result. This is how we continue to repeat the past in the present by playing out the same patterns as behavioral dynamics. Our past experiences give us a kind of preformed template as “instant interpretations” that don’t require us to think about them in order to form new patterns instead.
We always frame any situation as a means of interpreting it in a way that allows us to continue telling a certain type of story. Our beliefs form perceptual filters that we use as a filtering system for abstracting and only utilizing small portions of information available in any situation, and organize it in whatever way we need to in order to continue playing out the reality of our beliefs. If someone points it out to us, we usually respond by explaining it in a way that justifies our right to feel that way. We’ll literally argue and defend our right to feel the way we do because we create it in a way that feels very real to us. We don’t realize that we’re actually making it up and creating it through our ability to perceive it.
How to Transform our Experiences
All transformation and growth is something only we can do to ourselves and comes by way of self-awareness that allow us to see our own tendencies as a form of delusion and work through them to produce new types of experiences. We give our true power away to others by allowing them to control us, or we try to use our power inappropriately by trying to change the other person or situation instead of ourselves. We think that by changing the outer circumstances we’ll change our inner feelings about it. We imagine that in order to be alright we have to change the world around us that’s “making us” feel that way. We become heavily invested in trying to change other people’s perception, attitudes, and behaviors so that we don’t have to change our own, yet, in truth, we only have the power to change our own. So we approach and attempt to solve one delusion by creating another one designed to remedy it.
We only step into our true power as a creative being when we begin turning our attention inward and self-reflect as the means of recognizing how it is that we’re always acting on ourselves to create all of our own experiences. We can realize that every situation that “triggers us” somehow is also providing us with an opportunity to become self-aware in the present moment where we can actually change it. We can begin this process by simply observing ourselves as the means of realizing how it is that we create our own internal state as our reaction to something. No one is causing us to react (unless we remain unconscious), but we’re the one that’s actually creating our reaction as an internal process. We can only work with what operates in our life at the unconscious level by forming awareness around it. It’s through the awareness that we can see the actual process taking place, realize how and why we’re doing it, and then act to modify it consciously.
Self-Reflection and Awareness
It’s probably advisable to begin this process of transformation in situations where you’re only being mildly triggered so self-control is relatively easy, and practice faithfully until you get good at it and it starts becoming automatic. Then work your way up to more difficult ones. All change is produced in baby steps that are consistently taken. As you realize you’ve been triggered into what is normally a reactive state, refrain from reacting and instead turn your full attention inward. Notice where in your body you’re feeling the stimulus, what sensation it’s giving you, and what emotion it’s acting to invoke in you. As you concentrate on the feeling, relinquish all need to try and control what’s happening, and simply give yourself fully to the feeling inside of you allowing it to take on a life of its own. As it begins playing out, notice what it seems to be about, and what it’s showing you about yourself. What past experience are you naturally associating with it in order to give it meaning of some kind. The meaning you give it is what acts to shape your story about it which is what forms your experience of it.
Let your story play out while simply witnessing it from as detached a perspective as you can. Don’t associate to the experience by “being in it, having it”, but rather view it from a dissociated position as if you were another person looking at it from the outside. This moves you from a subjective state to an objective one. We can only see the truth of a situation when we’re not directly experiencing the emotions involved. It’s the emotion that’s associated to the memory itself that acts to initiate the whole process and pulls up the memory in your mind’s eye as the filter used to look through in order to perceive the current situation to be the same as the past. Emotions produce illusions out of memories as a false reality that we use in place of the actual reality of the present moment in order to create the same type of experiences.
As you begin forming a clear idea around what your reaction is all about, refrain from judging yourself in any way or going into some kind of dialogue that’s designed to explain and justify it. Whatever we argue to defend is ours to keep. This is how we stay locked into delusions of our own making. Then allow yourself to notice that they’re not doing anything “to you” and that you’re actually the one doing it through automatic processes of your own mind. Realize it has nothing to do with you unless you “make it” about you and your past. Allow yourself to realize that you’re creating a state of being upset, insulted, hurt, offended, not being worthy, betrayed, lied to, abandoned or not wanted, and so on. No one is “making you” feel that way, you’re actually the one doing it to yourself by the memories you’re using as the means of interpreting it to mean something. Nothing has meaning in and of itself outside of the one we give it.
All you need to do in order to break a pattern as an unconscious tendency is to become intuitively aware of it. The only reason ideas of our past continue to be played out in the present as the means of creating our experiences is because they’re operating without our direct awareness. Reactive behaviors literally keep us in an unconscious state. By becoming aware of what you’re doing to actually produce the reaction, is all it takes to loosen its grip. The emotional trigger that produced the reaction begins subsiding and fading to the point where you can easily control it, and it eventually subsides altogether. Once you’re able to remain calm and stay fully conscious, and you’re no longer taking it personal or making it about you somehow, you form a different way of looking at it where you can intelligently choose how to respond and interact. In this way, you quit creating your life out of your past conditioning and can begin creating in a more deliberate and intentional manner. As you begin consciously creating your experiences through a calm inner state, you step into your true ability to transform yourself to a new level of being.
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