Compassion for Your Reactivity

Of course the nature of life is that everything changes, but sometimes the changes are big, shocking, and painful.  In the face of death, divorce, job loss, or other major life challenges, you humbly realize that you don't have as much control as you thought.  However, in the midst of a swirl of shock and grief, there is something that cannot be taken away from you – who you are and how you choose to respond.

You get to choose who you are and how you respond to the ever changing events of your life. Specifically, you can start by choosing how to relate to yourself.  A student of mine put it this way, "I need to learn to have a relationship with myself instead of a reactionship."  This doesn't mean you don't have reactions - of course you do.

The question is, do you relate to your reactions with compassion or react to your reactions.  Recently a friend was talking about how she wants to come from a loving place with people in her life, but she finds herself irritable and defensive in the wake of her divorce.  She reacted to her reaction by telling herself she shouldn't have it, that she should be more loving.  The very loving she wants to express to others, she denied to herself.  I suggested that she could notice her reaction from a loving place by responding this way,

"Yea, it doesn't feel good to be defensive.  Yet, I know parts of me feel scared and vulnerable after this divorce and really need some tender care and love.  It is okay to react.  I am going to feel this for a while.  It is okay to feel these uncomfortable feelings.  I can handle it.  There is just for me to feel it and do the next thing in front of me."

There is a you inside that can watch your reactions in the face of little or big changes.  Naming your reactions gives you a little space.  In that little space you can cultivate a loving relationship with yourself and choose how you respond in the face of change.


This week, notice at least three times when you make a conscious choice about how to respond to yourself and others in a difficult situation.