If you have been around counseling at all, then you have probably heard the term "processing." Why is this such an important word? Well, perhaps the ability to respond rather than react is the most important reason ... being able to process is the key to responding vs. reacting.
Picture a train's wheels. Say this out loud: Chugga-Chugga, Chugga-Chugga, Emotion-Reaction, emotion-Reaction. That is our natural fight or flight state. We feel our emotions and then have a natural reaction almost subconsciously. Maybe we can allot 10% of our brain to this emotion-reaction task. How then do you respond rather than reacting?
Dr. Henry Cloud puts it this way:
"Neuroscience shows us that if you just take a moment to identify what you are feeling, especially in a frustrating situation or relationship, and name that emotion, it can mean all the difference in the world ... The reason is that labeling a feeling brings brain functioning to a much higher level ... engages other parts of yourself vs your "reactive" brain which will usually get you into trouble at such moments. But to stop, look inward, observe yourself, and label what you are feeling, slows down the reaction and gives you lots of other resources to choose a better response."
We can actually choose to respond by "processing"; by "engaging" the other 90% of our brains!
- If we don't take the time to know what is going on inside of us, we simply react.
- If we don't take the time to breath and figure out why we feel the way we do, we simply react.
- If we don't take the time to brainstorm solutions and choose a good solution, we simply react.
Yes, learning to respond takes effort, but practicing it is well worth avoiding regret, a wrong on top of wrong, worry, and a general feeling of being stuck or backed into a corner.
So, maybe the next offense you feel, is actually a great opportunity to start practicing responding or processing by labeling what emotions you're experiencing verses reacting due to being overwhelmed by them.
How's that for looking at your next potential argument or challenge in a good light!
Comment here or on our facebook page and let us know how you respond vs react!
Lindsey Pate | LPC-I & Thrive Mental Health Coach
(Wife, Mom, and serving Life for others)