Just about everyone has at least one moment they would like to take back; a quick act or word spoken. Whether it’s a few of these episodes or many, like paper thrown to the wind, they can’t be recalled. What you can do is keep it from happening again (and in some cases, again and again).
The trouble is that while most people know they want to react better when they get triggered, they don’t know how.
That’s where having practical framework for gaining insight and understanding of your default reaction mode can be invaluable. Unfortunately, most of us have little if any awareness of our default reaction mode when our hot buttons are pushed.
The challenge is being able to label how you react so you can then get a handle on it.
That’s why Lysa Terkuest’s podcast (part 1 and part 2) discussing her book “Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions” resonated with me. By breaking down the 15 competencies of SEI into 2 basic categories that everyone can understand, her model can help you quickly to get a handle on where you’re at. And once you know where your at, you can decide what you want to be different and the how to go about the change.
It starts by recognizing that internal conflict occurs when we feel exposed or opposed. One of our hot-buttons is pushed and we get triggered. Easy enough.
Where it gets tough is recognizing our own default reaction patterns and clearly labeling them. The good news is that Lysa’s model provides a tool doing just that; two simple categories, each with two flavors. The other news here is that doing so requires some reflection and often times honest and painful admissions. After all, who wants to admit they’re basically a “Stuffer” or “Exploder”?
A “Stuffer” is someone who keeps everything to themselves and does all they can to avoid conflict; just pushes it in and avoids. He or she then:
- Builds barriers- keeps it from happening again by staying away or keeping the other person away. Passive aggressiveness comes to mind.
- Collects Rocks- “retaliation rocks”, specifically. Behind the sweet smile he or she is quietly finding and storing away everything they possibly can to inflict maximum damage at a later and more opportune time.
An “Exploder” makes no pretenses and has little if any filter. They just go off in an attempt to make “it” go away. She or he then:
- Blames- spews blame at others like bile and takes no ownership of what happened or how they are reacting.
- Shames- similar to the first because it involves blame; only this time it’s directed inward shortly after the eruption and results in shame. If you could hear the self-talk there would be a lot of “shoulding” and “ought-to-have” being said.
The Liberating Truth
Your default reaction patterns are not who you are and you don’t have to be defined by them. The fact that it’s possible to be both given the context is ample proof. For example, you might be a “Stuffer” when it comes to your boss and an “Exploder” with your kids. Remind yourself it’s something you do and not who you are. More importantly, know you can do something about…if you’re willing.
The good news is that our emotions are indicators, not dictators; emotional smoke signals if you will. Keeping that reality in mind as well as our default reaction patterns can help us react how we want to instead of how we are inclined to. It begins with self-awareness.
How is your natural reaction style affecting the results you’re getting?
Whether your a Stuffer and Exploder, please leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts