Hey there, Dr. Renee here again. As one of the founders of the Bitch Slap of Truth, a Body Intelligence Expert and with 16 years of experience as a physical therapist, I’ve had lots of time to observe human behavior through my unique lenses on the world.
I’d like to start by making a key distinction between reacting and responding to the events and circumstances of our lives.
Reacting = negative, knee-jerk responses that can be physically and/or mentally hurtful to you and others if it continues beyond biologically necessary time periods. (See blog post “Yo, your knee jerk is kicking you in the balls”)
Responding = compassionate and empathetic ways of responding to stimuli in life. For example, those ways of being which Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus, Buddha and the like utilize to navigate the world.
Given the choice between reacting and responding, I would choose responding. It’s a more peaceful, joyful, fun, loving and compassionate way of being in the world. Trouble is, I don’t always have a choice because of my non-conscious wiring. My brain is biologically wired to react in a negative way – brains are all evolutionarily set up to look for and focus on what is wrong, not what is right.
Just like when a doctor hits my knee with his hammer, my leg is going to react by kicking. No control or choice over the matter, it is just going to happen. It doesn’t mean I’m going to keep kicking my leg though. Then why does the kicking, critical Judge in my head keep kicking, screaming and shouting in my head when a “negative” event pops up in my life? And why does my right leg continue to intermittently plague me with sciatica, my right jaw clicks and my gut go into shut down under high stress periods?
Because I’m human, my nervous system got stuck in a reactionary loop in my body-mind around a certain arena of life… and that’s normal. My body tells me with complete honesty if there’s a little too much reactionary activity going on in my brain.
Now that we got straight, let’s get onto what to do about it.
First things first, please take an honest inventory of where in your life that you might be stuck in a negative reactionary loop. Use as much loving kindness towards yourself as you have and feel free to borrow energy from the likes of Jesus, Buddha and the other Response crew to bridge the gap- I am quite certain they would be pleased to share. Without those two success strategies in place, your inner critical Judge will beat the tar out of you mercilessly and keep you stuck!
After you realize you are caught in a negative reaction vortex loop, invite yourself to notice that you noticed that. STOP, step back from the situation, take a breath and forgive yourself. In other words, give yourself an ounce of slack for being human. Good. Now notice that you probably weren’t breathing. Take a deep breath. You’ve then just created an ounce of space to create a different choice for yourself – to RESPOND instead of REACT.
Take a breath. Pause and Pivot. Step left. Look at this thing from a different angle. I want you to literally change the position of your body – sit up straighter and taller. Yes, that’s right, I am watching you and do see you slumping and slouching in your posture right now.
Now that you are aware that you have a body, it is breathing, and you are in a bigger power posture, ask yourself one of the following questions:
What if there is a good reason that this is happening?
What is the most loving and compassionate thing I can say to myself right now?
What can I do to take care of my needs and feel more safe?
Stay open and connected to your breath. See if you can call upon your inner Curious George. The cool thing about your brain is that if you ask it a question, it will find the answer.
We can retrain our systems to respond by becoming aware of our reactionary loops, pausing, taking a breath and changing our stance. From that place of space we can ask ourselves a different question. Don’t expect an answer immediately and please don’t force it – that tends to keep people frustrated and stuck. If you give yourself a little breathing room and just a few moments of inner quiet (MUCH to the chagrin of my Inner Type A Champion), I promise it will give your brain an opportunity to naturally find the answer to your new question.
Chances are good that new question you’re asking yourself has a much better shot at finding the answer you’re searching for. Your breath, bigger posture and new questions can provide the Response to get you out of the stuck reaction loop. That Response has fantastic lenses for viewing problems, finding creative solutions and letting you feel better in your body. All of which create remarkable neurological pathways in your body-mind that lead you back to what you’ve wanted all along: the Response of Love within you that has been there, waiting for you and ready with open arms to welcome you back Home.
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