It’s time to recognise the trapped emotions, fears, anxieties and unprocessed life experiences we hold in our bodies. They are the source of everything that ails us. ~ Gaia
In the heat of a moment, emotions can be triggered as a result of an outside stimulus that sets off a cascade of reactions within you. When you are very stressed or you have unprocessed emotions from the past, your reactivity to a given situation may increase in intensity and throw you into a feeling of being imbalanced and out of your comfort zone. These sensitivities affect your relationships, create polarisation and constrict communication that so necessary for connection and support in life.
How Reactivity Results in Imbalance
When emotional reactivity takes you away from your resilience and empowerment, the results can distort focus and behaviour. You may notice:
- Old stories and information surface from the past that formed from outdated beliefs. (Spending time with parents makes you feel like a child again and brings back related emotions.)
- There can be a nagging discomfort that you are helplessly victimised by unexpected intense feelings and have no way to manage them.
- You are assaulted by your inner critic heaping abuse and judgment on you for your emotional reactivity. (“You are wrong, weak, worthless etc” )
- Your feelings seem out of control and messy. There is no way to express them coherently.
- When your buttons get pushed you notice that your emotions are ‘over-the-top’ in intensity to the actual triggering event. (A reprimand from your boss sets off an avalanche of rebellious anger within you that continues for hours)
- An unexpected event touches your vulnerability. (Someone criticises your behaviour which causes unexpressed feelings to emerge about your sense of self-worth. You may feel sadness or assume a defensive, angry posture)
- When an unstable condition causes you to withdraw into self-protection and silence, the reactivity becomes internalised in an attempt to quiet the volatile feelings that have been sparked.
A man walking is never in balance, but always correcting for imbalance ~Gregory Bateson
Imbalance in a Positive Light
There is a positive side to feeling being pushed off your center:
You learn to navigate the ups and downs of your emotional life and accept the imbalances are as much a part of the flow of life as balance is.
You can learn to appreciate both imbalance and balance states of being in life.
It can become an opportunity to access repressed emotions and release them
You can develop awareness and curiosity about your reactivity and begin to discover tools that teach you how to make the choice to respond rather than react.
Reactivity gives you permission to express emotions that may have been held back for a long time
You have the potential to develop self-acceptance and embrace the truth that imbalance and reactivity are simply part of being human.
Knowledge is empowering. When you become aware of reactive behaviours and their sources, it is possible to train your mind to make a different choice. You can be present with your emotions without judgment and learn how to introduce a different more balanced approach that supports emotional stability even in the midst of imbalance.
- Meditation and Breathwork – use these tools to access and root out the source of emotions and events that no longer serve your present trajectory in life.
- When emotional reactivity erupts:
- Breathe, take cooling breaths in and out through the mouth with curled tongue. Feel the calming effect of your breath.
- Ask – “Where is this coming from?” Let memories surface and connect to similar triggers or feelings in your past:
- – This is just like ______________ (fill in the blank)
- – “How old do I feel right now?”
- Spend quiet time letting the answers surface into your consciousness.
- After the balance has been restored, it is sometimes helpful to confront the person(s) who prompted your reactions to clear with them and resolve any negativity within yourself or with them.
- Grounding exercises to help refocus you in the present moment and away from the mind’s looping story scenarios
- stomp your feet
- clap the inside of your wrists together
- wash your face with warm water
It is possible to be in the grip of emotional reactivity, feel imbalances and still be OK. You can learn how to stay awake to the shifts while maintaining focus on goals and the present moment even as you navigate the imbalances that arise in life. It is part of our spiritual potential and our growth.