15 Jul Why You React the Way You Do (and how to stop it)

I remember the first time I heard, “Life is meaningless”. It didn’t come from a hopeless soul or a teenager seeking attention. Instead, it came from an expert in developmental psychology with whom a group of about 130 people, including myself, were spending approximately 30 hours with that weekend. This was day one.

You could feel the emotions rise across the room before even the first sound was made in reaction to this statement. If I could divide the room in three types of responses, it would go as follows:

  1. Distanced. I was a member of this group upon initially hearing the statement. Initially, it didn’t have an effect on this group. Some of us were processing it, while others simply weren’t ready to hear it. It’s kind of like watching a movie 3 years apart – you’re likely to pick up on things later on that you couldn’t relate to initially.
  2. Triggered. There were some almost immediate outbursts, most of which first came in the way of sounds such as “ahmmm” or “oooph”. By the way, making sounds is not uncommon and is a quick indication that the individual has been triggered. These sounds come from a learned pattern in previous situations where such sounds were made by others, likely our relatives or friends. The reaction – rather than response – to hearing something that goes against our intrinsic values is usually defensive speech or actions (fight) or avoiding it (flight). For instance, there were quite a few participants who were spiritual, if not religious. One walked out of the conference to never come back – he chose the “flight” reaction. This is likely because much of his life was based on “life has meaning” and now that notion was threatened. The same was happening to those participants who stayed but tried to argue the notion (“fight” reaction).
  3. Relieved. I joined this group in about 5 minutes after the initial statement was made. Once the speaker explained their reasoning, I felt a deep relief that continues to this day. That statement changed much about my life almost instantly – and it continues to do so today.

But I’m not going to dive into that gem of a statement today. Instead, I’d like to introduce you to a statement of my own that has been changing my coaching clients’ lives and businesses profoundly and almost immediately! Now that you know how you may react to it, I’d like for you to consider my statement as an outfit – you can try it on and if it’s not a fit, feel free to take it off.

No matter how strong, feelings do not matter.

As a society, we put a lot of weight on emotions. Contrary to popular belief, it is not because we suddenly softened up. Studies continue to show that our rise in anxiety and depression is due to the unprecedented rate of growth in technology. Not just new smartphone models, but changes in social media platforms, housing technology, food technology, etc. All of those amplify the anxieties we have as humans. I specifically do not say “add to” because anxiety is always rooted in one thing: fear of the unknown.

Besides anxiety, we have emotions such as happiness high, sadness low, excitement, fear, anger, love (although I teach it as a verb), etc. Technology has allowed us to connect – and disconnect – from people at a quicker rate than ever before. As a result, we don’t have the time to process our emotions before they are swung the other way.

For example, a client just texted you how grateful they are for your help and how amazing you are. “Yay! I knew I could help them. I’m so good. I’m going to help 100 people this year. Life is SO good.” Happy high. Not even a minute later, you browse your Instagram to find that your ex just got engaged. Suddenly, the absence of a ring on your finger is strongly felt and the mind chatter of “why am I still single? what’s wrong with me? why can’t I be happy for him? am I a horrible person? oh my, I’m a horrible person and that’s why I will never get engaged” ensues and now you’ve swung from your happy high to the sad low within two minutes – and you don’t even like your ex!

To learn how to avoid mood swings, click here.

Mood swings are not only reserved for women. We ALL have them, but we don’t have to.

Feelings do not matter – only actions do. Any time you experience any kind of emotion, it’s important to remember that it is coming from a place of the past. Something at some point happened that made you feel this way and now your mind thinks that this is the only way to react to situations such as this. The trigger reaction can even go as far as how your cavemen ancestors dealt with certain situations!

The amygdala is a relatively small part of the brain that is responsible for the “fight” or “flight” response. It is also called the “lizard” brain because it has stored information for generations, dating back to the origin of humanity as we know it. As you are likely aware, you no longer have the need to fight or run away from a bear, but your amygdala responds in the same way to an angry client as it does to a bear – if you allow it to.

Part of why my business coaching program produces significant results in as few as 3 sessions is because we work to rewire the brain. We do not give into emotion or spend too much time or energy analyzing it – we override it with actions that get us closer to our goals. This is part of the process of rewiring our thought process for good.

If you are ready to move forward, overcome a plateau and improve all areas of you life, book a complimentary 30-minute coaching call with me here.