Taking Care Of You is important. Is it more important than taking care of those you care about? No, it is not. Keeping the balance is one of those things we long to achieve, yet find it hard to do.
Remember those quality relationships I mentioned previously? Developing stronger, more positive quality relationships with those you care about is a key component in Taking Care Of You. "Really?", you may say.
Take a moment to think about this. How do the actions and words of another cause you to feel? How do your actions and words cause others to feel?
They can cause a myriad of feelings, dependent on many different factors. We interpret these actions and words based on more than just "on the surface" type indicators like words chosen, voice pitch, etc. At a deeper level, we notice nonverbal communication cues like body posture, eye contact and facial expression. For those of us who very aware of ourselves, we also begin to realize that our feelings develop from factors we can't put a name to so easily, i.e. conditioned responses and learned behaviors.
It's very true that no one makes us feel a certain way, yet it's very difficult to not let those same instances cause us to react rather than respond. Especially when it comes to a negative interaction.
We are interconnected, especially when it comes to close family relationships. Such as parent and young child, adult child and parent, and husband and wife. Or as Mary Ann Crosno put it so well on SimpleMarriage, "Our need for relationships creates the human paradox - we need enough togetherness to survive and enough separateness to thrive."
Many times during interactions with those who fill quality relationships in our lives we will need to ask ourselves "Am I reacting or responding?" Say, if you've become short-tempered with your child or spouse. Is my child trying to embarrass me or am I reacting to their tantrum in this public place? Did my husband put this here to make me angry or am I reacting to the fact that it is here?
If you answer reacting, it's OK to do a restart. Just realizing what you are doing is extremely effective towards changing the perceived reality. The next step is "What will I do about it?"
The first thing is to slow down--slow your heart rate if it's racing, slow your mind if it's churning with thought after thought and slow your feelings, because they probably haven't been provoked by positive reactions. Next, take a slow look around. See, life is still going on. It is OK.
When you have relaxed yourself, it's time to go back to the source. If we can make the shift from victim to navigator of the quality of our experiences, we can start to work with the energy of the emotion.Take responsibility, soften the "me against you" feel and reconnect with the situation in a responsive, and most importantly, positive way.
If you are talking with someone, let them know you realize that you are reacting to _____ (fill-in with "what you are saying", "what you did", etc.) and that you will start responding to them instead. For example, if you have been interrupting them either out loud or even in your own mind, after the above statement add "Please continue. I will be listening." Saying it out loud clues them in to your emotional change and helps you to focus your awareness into a more positive interaction of responding.
Try it. Let us know how you face these situations and what works for you to bring yourself back to responsiveness.
Until next time...Take Care Of You!
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