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Acting Vs Reacting

Growing up I had parents, as I suspect most of you did in some shape or form. On one shoulder I had my mother. She was a lovely woman that did her best to make sure her 4 son's emotions were acknowledged as much as she possibly could. On the other shoulder, we had my father. A boy doesn't cry and showing emotion is showing weakness kind of guy. Something that generation seemed to produce quite a bit of. Despite using his words to damage his son's view of healthy emotions or the emotional intelligence his wife was trying her best to instill in us..He would react emotionally to any and every little inconvenience.

My father's favorite saying, besides "I'll give you something to cry about", was "Do I say, not as I do". Anyone with even an intermediate level of knowledge on how young boys learn during their adolescence would know that my brothers and I were forming our behavior patterns based on these fly-off-the-handle reactions. My mother did her best to counteract those neural pathways being solidified. But..boys will be boys. My 3 brothers and I entered adulthood carrying this imbalance.

"Most of us don't spend any time knowing ourselves. We just keep reacting." -Jewel

All 4 of us boys have had to develop self-awareness and stare generational curses in the face while battling this learned behavior of reacting to difficulties emotionally. Instead of acting on them with wisdom as they pop into our day-to-day journeys as adults. Some of us are doing better than others.

Personally, reacting instead of acting almost killed me. It bred a decade-and-a-half addiction that I almost wasn't able to walk out of. As I stood there in the ashes of the emotional dumpster fire my chaotic reacting had left, I had to make a decision. I had to choose to break free those cemented-in neural pathways. Unbridled emotional reactions were not an option I could rely on anymore if I wanted to live. I had to choose discipline over those tendencies my ancestors have been passing down our DNA.

Today I still struggle with the survival instinct to react over taking a breath and stepping into wise actions. It gets difficult when you have more than one thing balancing in your stress zone. Stressors rarely stand in line politely waiting to be dealt with one at a time. This is where discipline is necessary. Doing things like prioritizing actions that need to be taken on a scale of important, urgent, or emergency. Taking a deep breath when a new stressor steps into the ring before deciding what to say or do creates much less destruction than acting like a scared wild cat backed into a corner.

No matter what you do, my conclusion is once again..All of this takes a step toward self-awareness to make it work. You can crawl out of the fight for survival and into truly acting with wisdom. If that inward-looking is something you can accomplish, you can start the journey along the process of creating new neural pathways. You may completely f<ck it up sometimes, or you may only progress a little each time you're facing a new growth opportunity. The key is to keep trying, keep taking that moral inventory, and put intention in growth towards healthier actions.

Have a good weekend everyone.


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