A few days ago I blogged on how I waste time by inappropriately reacting to situations and circumstances. Since the incident mentioned in that blog post, I have been trying to observe myself engaging in this behavior in hopes that I might detect a pattern and correct it.
To both my relief, and dismay, I have discovered that there is indeed a pattern. My relief is the result of having detected a pattern, but my dismay is the result of discovering that this pattern is pretty complex.
To demonstrate, I am going to use the following (fictional) scenario as an example:
1. Someone calls me a “dummy”.
2. I react by feeling hurt, sad, angry, and confused.
3. My hurt feelings give rise to one or more of the following responses: I snap back with an insult of my own, I wander off feeling sorry for myself and trying to figure out why that person doesn’t like me, I begin to wonder if that person is going to try and turn others against me. . .and so on.
Notice that my responses (which take up the bulk of my time and energy) are not directly the result of being called dumb, but are instead in response to my hurt feelings. My responses are only secondarily connected to the situation: The time and energy that I invest in my responsive actions is primarily connected to my emotional reaction, not the incident itself.
This is a hard pattern to challenge and change, so lately I have been just trying to pay attention to this process. I’m trying to catch myself between my emotional reactions and my continued response. I’d like to think that eventually I can get enough distance between the emotion and my response so as to figure out whether I am making an appropriate investment.
I’ll keep trying, anyway.