Slowing Down Soothes Reactivity

I remember when I was young hearing that we only use 10% of our brains, and that was a high estimate. This concept has floated around various circles and been explained various ways. What I’ve extracted from the concept, true or not, is that 90% of what we do is not conscious. This makes all kinds of sense when you consider the myriad biological processes going on in our bodies like clockwork, in which our conscious mind typically has no role.

But even where the conscious mind is in charge, really most of the stuff we do is habit. We aren’t choosing to do it so much as we know how to do it and we just keep replaying the tape. We are especially prone to just replaying the tape if we are stressed or feel attacked in any way. We go to what we know, and this tendency is called Reactivity.

Reactivity sucks. Literally. It sucks the life and choice out of situations. It condemns us to relive the past, wanted or not. It keeps us in patterns that maybe were effective once or twice, but here in its umpteenth iteration is really destructive. Reactivity is the automatic, unconsidered response that keeps us stuck and keeps the world at bay.

There is a concept here I really want to crack but haven’t exactly yet. It’s embedded in the word.

Reactivity is blind. It has jumped into action before we even see what is truly happening in a situation.  When you extract the embedded “C” and bring it to the forefront- when you are willing to see before you act- it becomes Creativity.

Isn’t that something?

The wonderful thing about slowing down is that reactivity naturally wanes, giving rise to more and more creativity. When you are actively slowing down you are actively reducing your stress level and naturally feeling more grounded. The conditions for reactivity begin to diminish, which is a huge opportunity to apply mindfulness. Mindfulness is the death knell of reactivity, although it is a feisty bugger and goes down slowly.

Still, the conditions created by slowing down are inhospitable to reactivity. When we can approach the world gently, slowly, deliberately, we can’t help but notice the reactivity in our behavior eventually. Noticing brings awareness. Awareness is the healing agent. I mean, if we notice reactivity and actively work to reduce it, that’s great. But even if we just notice it, the awareness will begin undoing it even without our conscious intent. Awareness is the healing agent.

Now, most of us, once we recognize a problem or issue, really want to get to the heart of it and fix it. This “hurry up and slow down” mentality is funny, and I often catch myself in it. But my time is up, so this will need to be another post.

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