This is the first in a series of blogs that focus on how mindfulness can work for you in relationship.
In close relationships such as with a couple, being highly reactive to each other can be a real problem. This could be evidenced in raised voices, bickering and people saying things that they later regret. Just like other animals we have a low brain or reptilian brain that reacts far more quickly than our thought processes do. When we react quickly and automatically in relationship things certainly do get worse rather than better.
Not to be confused with honesty or spontaneity, these quick and automatic reactions often are patterned after personal history. In a split second we assume that we are being mistreated or misunderstood because that’s what did happen before. All this happens before we can think.
The second person is readily triggered into the same sort of automatic reactivity once they are triggered by the first. Then we have two people with highly charged emotions going at each other, fuelled by past hurts and hair trigger reactivity. This can be so destructive in intimate relationships!
We would have to slow ourselves down to become mindful. The first step is to realize “ I’m very reactive “ and/or “my emotions are very strong” Then we can pull out of the situation, say we’ll talk about this later, or redirect ourselves to a calming activity. Self-observation is key. Reactivity has signs of hyper-arousal: rapid speech, muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, feelings of panic and urgency. When we become practiced at observing these physical signs we gain valuable information about when to stop what we are doing and make a productive change.
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Nancy Christie BFA, CYW
170 The Donway West
North York Ontario
Certified Sensory Motor Psychotherapist Advanced Practitioner
Member Canadian Association for Psychodynamic Therapy
Member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario
Clinical Member of the Ontario Society of Psychotherapists