“If you let your emotions drive, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.” -Me.
In the last post (Eye of a hurricane) I said I would share some strategies for living a more responsive and less reactive life.
1. Practice mindfulness meditation. This trains the muscle of your mind to notice when your attention is not where it needs to be (right here). Each time you notice it’s in the past or future, you bring it back to the moment at hand, with gentleness. Each time it wanders and you bring it back, that’s a rep. The more reps, the stronger your muscle of attention. It’s impossible to be responsive when your mind is emotionally entangled. Mindfulness helps you untangle, or unhook, from your anger/anxiety/fear/resentment before you act it out.
2. Get clear on your values and have them direct your behavior. So many people have never sat down and considered their values. How do you want to show up as a person every single day? What matters to you? These stable values should be directing your behavior, not your fleeting emotions. It’s the difference between living a values directed life vs. an emotionally driven life. If your emotions are driving the car, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. If you are in the habit of being guided by your emotions rather than your values, you’re going to have to be patient with yourself as you learn a new way of navigating your life.
Figure out what you care about and commit to action in service of those values. Life is much more fulfilling when it is being directed by something more stable than your fleeting emotions.
3. Play the equanimity game. Whenever you get off balance, see how quickly you can restore your equanimity. What would be the most empowered response to the most mundane situation? Practice by building your muscle for the small things so you can be strong enough for the big situations.
I’d love to hear which you try and how it goes. Meditation, values work, the equanimity game? What do you have to lose, besides your reactivity?