If you have children, or have ever spent any time around little kids you’ll know what I mean by primitive behavior. Primitive behavior is your most fundamental and reptilian way of acting particularly within the context of upsetting situations.
When a child bites a playmate after having a toy snatched away, or screams and writhes on the floor when the TV gets turned off they’re exposing their lack of reflection, and their inability to regulate strong emotions
All very normal for a young child, but sometimes as adults we don’t outgrow this kind of trigger-reaction behavior.
Being responsive instead of reactive is a capacity not a personality trait so no one is incapable of improving in this arena.
The capacity to slow the mind and body down in the face of an upsetting situation comes with human evolvement and development.
In other words, children are excused but as an adult you have the ability to do better.
Reacting defensively, retaliating, quick trigger anger, and tantrum behavior are all primitive ways of dealing with strong emotions that should have evolved into reflective responsiveness by adulthood.
So your practice this week is Pushing Pause.
The goal is to activate the reflective capacity wired into your Prefrontal Cortex that allows you to slow down before reacting.
Here’s how you practice pushing pause:
Breathe when you’re triggered or upset. Your breath will organically slow you down for your reflective capacity to come on line.
Sleep on any big issues before responding. Your first inclination is usually unproductive so taking the time to let it “marinate” is a good step toward this kind of growth.
Walk away if you can’t control yourself. Sometimes responding in a heated situation is impossible so it’s always better to take a break so you can approach it from a different angle.
Notice the triggers when you feel yourself getting activated. We all have buttons that get pushed and becoming aware of these trigger points will help you to be more prepared when they happen.
Practice this in person with people, and also with texting and emailing.
When you find that your blood is boiling, or you feel that adrenaline rush in your body, push pause and give yourself the opportunity to respond reflectively.
Not easy work, but definitely life changing.
Dr. Andra Brosh September 1st, 2014