Mindfulness has changed my life by allowing me to learn why I have spent much of my life reacting and not responding. Will explain the difference later.
People are either reactive or responsive and the difference can be life changing.
If you are a very calm and placid person but yet someone constantly keeps 'poking' you, eventually you will react in some way. When I use the term 'poking' this can be physical or emotional. Even the kindest and most calm person has a limited threshold of tolerance when exposed to constant 'poking'.
I see the response v react trait as a case of 'fight or flight'. Most people who get provoked and I use the word provoked a lot as I am most definitely someone who has been provoked countless times and sadly my reactions have been my biggest downfall.
The provokers would never acknowledge the fact they have been provocative but thats the problem.
Looking back on different past situations I wish I would have had the skill to walk away from provocation. I'm 50 years old and now I am still trying to master the art of response. I understand so much more about my personality and also the personalities of CLUSTER B PEOPLE.
A look back
In 2013 I decided that I wanted to learn more about mindfulness so I went on various courses and day retreats. I wanted to understand why I was a 'reactor.' I wanted to understand why I allowed situations to make me 'knee jerk' and why I was unable to pause before I reacted.
THE CLUSTER B PEOPLE WOULD describe me as somewhat aggressive, opinionated, crazy, mental, oversensitive but the truth is I am assertive with my own personality, bubbly, a bit of a joker, unusual, fiercely loyal and yes I am sensitive. Whats important to me is how I feel I am as a human being.
I'm a kind empathetic person who craves tranquillity and like all of us my finest qualities shine the brightest around my 'tribe' of people.
I hate loud noise, busy and overcrowded spaces. Anything that causes my heart rate to speed up due to conflict and being misunderstood has been my downfall due to my reactions
For years I have been on 'HIGH' alert and even now I am always ready to defend myself and those I love.
After reading about mindfulness in 2001 and having grown up with anxiety about death and illness I decided to slowly learn more. I discovered how to teach it once I had mastered the art of pausing in difficult situations. (Actually, I'm still trying to master it)
Just for the record I am now probably an 80% responder and 20% reactor ... I'm a work in progress. However, I was a 100% reactor so I think I am doing well.
I have learnt that my 'natural nature' is not to react but due to circumstances out of my control during my life I learnt to be 'explosive' and sadly those 'explosions' have let me down many times.
Finally, I Have It All Worked Out!
I have learnt that this reactive button started many years ago. Being reactive invites you to step out of integrity, this is not a good thing.
When others know that your downfall is your explosive reaction then very often its a fantastic misdirection technique that is played.
During my most recent studies I came to understand that 'mindfulness' could help me again. My mindfulness guard had slipped and my self awareness was slack.
A recent event in my personal life has woken me up. Once again a situation was taken out of context, twisted, turned and distorted. Nasty words were spat at me accusing me of being a bad person and once again I was made to feel awful. What did I do ? The only thing I knew, which was to react to defend myself. BAD MOVE !
I REACTED to the lies and abuse. I failed myself by allowing to be sucked in to a vacuum of toxic abuse and untruths. The effect this had on me was going to either break me or make me once more. I stayed down in despair but not for long. I read articles, listened to podcasts, spoke to highly skilled professionals that had heard my stories many times and then all of a sudden when I read an article that was almost exactly the same story mirroring my own life, I sat bolt upright and thought... OH MY GOD.
If you know me well, you will know I hate being misunderstood, I loathe liars, injustice, bullies and manipulators. The worst thing about these types of people is the fact they really honestly believe they are always right. Its incredible. Its frightening, scary and these same people have an amazing mask worn to others. Cluster B people are like wicked magicians, subtle manipulators, disloyal, undermining and they know who to wear the mask with and who to manipulate. Its a terrible thing to be the victim of one but now I have met hundreds like me.
Back to the important bits...
A reaction as we know it, is instantaneous. A stimulus occurs, followed by a reaction which is normally 'emotional.'
When one reacts from emotion there is no time to have thought about it, no rational or logical backing to even consider the consequences.
Something or someone causes the emotional response to the stimuli leaving you with no time whatsoever to think.
Mindfulness/Awareness = EMPOWERMENT
I have learnt that no matter how awful another person creates the stimuli that created my reactions, I would always be the guilty party. My reaction would always be the picture that would be seen and that is the greatest trick of people who like to blame you when things go wrong. The focal point is always pointed to the reactor, not the stimulator...
I am very well educated when it comes to being a reactor and I am connected to people with what we call Cluster B personalities. These personalities use provocation through some kind of word or action thats meant to provoke in order to obtain an emotional gigantic reaction. As soon as someone like me REACTS it feeds the personality of the CLUSTER B person, giving them their supply of...POWER.
It has taken me years and years to understand this. My reactions have ruined so many relationships but actually no, thats not true, its ruined the relationships I have had with Cluster B people. I wouldn't choose to be surrounded by cluster B people but there is sometimes no choice. I have and still am learning the art of respond v react, because it is my own responsibility which one I choose. I AM RESPONSIBLE.
Cluster B people will often say things about the person they are trying to provoke that is NOT true, they will accuse you of doing or being something bad. Cluster B wants your outrage and I have given it so many times. WHAT A TWIT I'VE BEEN.
One of the hardest things to do is to be slandered and stay silent. BUT staying silent keeps you out of the Cluster B's trap.
Learning how to respond in a way thats in alignment with who you are will make you feel brilliant about yourself and Cluster B people will not be able to say, 'you see she's mad, crazy, unhinged etc.' Cluster B people need to control you and how you believe and what you think and more often than not if, like me, you have been a REACTOR then the chances are, you were raised by a Cluster B parent, meaning you have learnt to be a reactor from young.
A Cluster B person will always see a disagreement as a criticism due to the deep sense of insecurity they have that of course they would not believe they are insecure.
The Cluster B person will feel injured if you disagree with them so they will try to punish you by provoking a reaction or they will move away from you and silence you for a considerable time.
This Is Now The Time To Know How To Stop It.
I have seen and been helped by many outstanding professionals and there is now no doubt in my mind that learning to 'react or retreat' starts early on in life.
The react and retreat personality was how we felt we could protect ourselves during conflict.
I was the REACTOR. I am still learning.
MY MOTTO NOW
LET CLUSTER B'S SAY WHATEVER THEY WANT ABOUT ME BECAUSE
I JUST WANT TO BE HAPPY AND I DON'T NEED TO PROVE I'M RIGHT ANYMORE