In the last few years of my life, I've struggled with being reactionary. Some tell me I react too much, and some tell me I do not react at all. Sometimes it's about how I react within myself, and other times it's about how I react to others. Sometimes it's not even about me at all. I'm a very observational person. And in the last few months alone, I've come to uncover my flaws in reacting through watching what other people go through and how other people react.
I've been listening to Jay Shetty, a lot. He has a podcast called "On Purpose" where he interviews all kinds of different people and releases a new episode every Monday. Every other Monday, he films an episode on his own where he talks about different lessons learned, oftentimes referring to his own experiences. One of my favorite episodes by him goes hand in hand with reacting to others, at least in the ways I interpreted it.
You'd never guess this based off of its title, "3 Lessons I Learned From My Exes." And while these lessons are framed specifically for intimate relationships, I believe you can apply them to any kind of relationship or interaction. With that being said, below are some takeaways I took from this episode:
- It's often claimed that the number one skill in a relationship is communication, trust and maintaining quality time with one another. But the one thing that everyone fails to acknowledge the importance of is: how to argue.
- Conflict is a thing that is inevitable, no matter how much you love one another. It's going to happen and we have to confront that and learn HOW to argue, as odd as it may sound. No one wants to have conflict, of course, but it's unavoidable so why not learn the right ways to argue and save yourself from inflicting more pain, whether it be on yourself or others.
- The key to knowing how to argue = learning how people fight: for example, some people need to process the argument. To process whatever may have happened, whether it was between themselves OR between the both of you. Others find the need to talk about the issue and solve it right away (like me, but I'll get to that).
- Another key is learning how the person you're reacting to and/or arguing with, reacts to an argument themselves. We all process things differently, something we often fail to be conscious of. When you're able to realize that we're all different, therefore we all react in different ways - you become capable of removing the judgment you hold, consciously or subconsciously, and build the distance needed between recognizing that this person reaction is merely their way of reacting as opposed to being a reflection of you. Not having placed this required distance is what gets us in trouble. We negatively react to another person's reaction often because we convince ourselves that it has to do with who we are. For example; my sister and I are opposites in terms of arguing and reacting. She needs to have time to reflect before reacting while I react right away and feel the need to fix the problem on the spot. Before observing arguments between others and listening to this episode, I always took it so personally. I always thought, "well why me, why doesn't she talk to me. We're sisters, we have to fix this right away." And even when her reaction wasn't due to an argument caused between us but because of something she was personally going through, I thought the same thing. I would convince myself that she didn't come to me for help or talk to me about what she was going through because she didn't trust me when it was actually because that's how she reacted, how she coped.
Jay offers five different questions he believes we should ask ourselves before proceeding to argue and react:
- "Can we find 5 positives for every negative?" If not, there's a problem with the core of the relationship, friendship, etc.
- "Is this the right time to fight?" Always be sure to fight in the right place. Not in a place of comfort such as your bedroom, etc.
- "Are you the right person to say what you're about to say?" Sometimes we may be saying the right thing, but we just might not be the right person to say it.
- "Are you saying the right thing?"
Moral of the story is: you are in charge of how you react to others. You can be in charge of how an argument goes. You can be in charge of the energy you allow to enter based on what you convince yourself to believe vs. what is occurring. However, it's impossible to do this before making the time to learn about yourself. It's integral for one to take time to figure out what their ways of fighting and reacting are and what they may need to improve, and what they need to strengthen. This is especially important before one takes the initiative to learn about someone else's ways. Make it a habit to be intentional in sorting out your thoughts, being more patient, thinking before you speak, and reflecting on whether or not the thing you WANT to say is the thing you NEED to say - because sometimes that isn't the case. Not everything needs to be said and the things that do, may not always make sense coming from you. And sometimes, the habits ingrained in how we react can be tied to different, and possibly negative, aspects of our lives that also need to be addressed.
I hope this helped anyone reading. I highly encourage you to check out "On Purpose" by Jay Shetty, all of his podcasts are so insightful and have guided me through a lot.
Till next time,