Reactionary Mindset

April 14th 2022

Audio version of the blog to hear tone and to allow you to multitask while listening.

In this blog, I will be going more in-depth when it comes to my own mind and how I am trying to work through my own reactions during difficult encounters. It may feel like a late night rant, but bear with me as I believe what I’m saying may not only give you some insight into another person’s mind but maybe it will help you with better understanding your own when it comes to how we react to how other people treat us.

Roaming through my adult life I always felt out of place.  I said the wrong things at the wrong times. No matter my intentions my words were the daggers and I was the one holding them. I would listen to others’ advice, read others’ words, observe others’ tones, and yet I never was able to fully present my words to match what my heart wanted to speak.  It was as if my heart had to go through barricades and before the words came out the words got shifted and turned about as if it was a game of Telephone. If my heart wanted to say something, the emotions inside would add other words because of past experiences. Sometimes those words were filled with anger or guilt, but also my mind would worry how it would sound to other people due to issues previously. My anxiety would help add the rough presentation of those words.  Later on I added consideration to the mix, where I wanted to ensure what I said would not hurt other people, so not so much what they thought about me but more what those words would make them feel about themselves.  That would add stuttering and stumbling, which can come across as insincerity, but it was the contrary.  I knew what I wanted to say and I felt deeply about those thoughts, but my concern for others took away the confidence portion when speaking those words.  I don’t believe I was like this when I was younger.  I used to say exactly what was on my mind and it would match the intentions, but then with how others perceived my words, I started trying to adjust and follow suit to the “social games” life had us play.  When I say “social games” at times it was just that, but a lot of times it was how other people thought we had to speak to each other due to their own experiences.  Heartfelt and vulnerable conversations were only with those who someone fully trusted or even only with a professional.  When approached with kindness, they would be taken back, either with hesitation due to possible distrust or even an unfamiliarity with being spoken to in such a vulnerable way.  There was this negative stigma that came along with positive honesty. Yes, there were people who used this to deceive others and that in return lead to people not trusting said words. When it comes to people who are sincere they often lose this side of them, in which they feel they cannot be sweet to other people in a way they were as children.  It takes them decades to be able to return to this, along with a lot of trust for the person they do this with, or at times what feels like never again. 

Due to the issues other people had, I thought I was doing something wrong. I started getting confused with what to say, when to say it, and how to say it.  I lost the ability to speak the way I once did.  I started trying to be someone else. I had the heart of an innocent, hopeful child and the mind of a confused teenager as I entered adulthood.  I allowed frustrations to take over my tone, anger to twist my words, and negativity to remove my hope.  I lost a lot of friendships during this transition, as I started doubting others’ words and intentions just like those who have done to me before.  I didn’t realize as I was struggling with finding who I was again, so were they.  I didn’t take into account that I wasn’t the only one working on growth and became selfish in my thoughts.  I allowed my own baggage to carry over with me, and what I was asking others not to do to me, I was doing to them.  I only allowed my feelings and my perspective to be seen by me and others. I rationalized a lot of this by saying that people before were selfish and did this to me, but that wasn’t a good reason to do it to another person or even those who were selfish prior.  I still always cared about other people, but I didn’t always take into account what they were going through.  Even when I started realizing this was true, I struggled.  It’s important that we don’t only think or say the words but also follow through with them.  After years of thinking a certain way this repetitive nature creates a specific reactionary mindset.  

There would be moments in which I was able to separate my emotional baggage and focus on the bigger picture. These moments would increase in time, but then I started realizing that there was a trigger that would occur and cause my reactionary responses to strike.  The ones in which frustration and confusion would emerge instead of the heartfelt tone I wanted the other person to hear.  While my words would still be strongly geared towards the heartfelt message, my tone and words would be heard as negative, angry, frustrated, and confused.  I’m not saying they weren’t in that moment, but it was because of the pain that I was feeling.  This was based on the other person’s response be it an action they perhaps forgotten to do; words they forgot they had said; or even lashing out in a harsh or indifferent response when I was trying to be honest about how their actions or lack of actions caused me pain.  

I would try to go various routes of speaking these words to fulfill not only my needs but also to match their’s.  I would speak in calm ways; state it jokingly; passively; directly; and yet I wouldn’t see any forward motion on their end, so eventually my directness would include the pain I felt in my tone.  As I started taking their lack of follow-through personally, I would start asking myself questions, such as, why wouldn’t they want to work on this? Is our relationship not as important as others? My anxiety and insecurities would start creeping into the speculation portion of my mind.  It would be months or even years in which I would try to be patient with the other person, but I didn’t see the growth at a rapid enough pace to prevent these thoughts from emerging.  

Now, I don’t fully blame myself as I do believe others should acknowledge and hold up their portion of a relationship, but this isn’t about what I felt they did incorrectly at the time, but what I did. This is about what I have control over.  I set a certain standard in my head for what I expect when it comes to a relationship.  This has hurt me in many ways.  I understand we shouldn’t set expectations on people, but I did believe for the longest time that I should set a standard for the people I allow in my life when it comes to people who I trust.  The issue with this is that it added deadlines to people’s growth and that isn’t fair. 

I would be frustrated with them not understanding why I was hurting. Regardless of the amount of ways and times I have explained to them what was hurting me they would normally remember how I reacted now.  In the moment I was at my worst.  The times before when I was patient and calm were stricken and they only heard the anger.  The message of pain and hurt no longer was heard, because it was how I spoke to them in that moment in which they, too, were frustrated.  It’s like teaching someone during a highly stressful time.  Will they retain the lesson or will they retain how they felt during that lesson?  What will I retain from the same interaction? As others may not fully reflect on the years of conversations, but instead the minutes of the conversations in which were heated, I reflected on all portions or possibly weighed these differently.  I saw that regardless of the amount of effort I put into the relationship, it no longer held importance as my reactionary mindset filled with anxiety, insecurities, confusion, and frustration would be what defined me.   

Some people distanced themselves, others disconnected with me indefinitely, and then others still work through this with me. I noticed that just like I do to others, I needed to understand that we’re all on different timelines and that sometimes people don’t fit into our lives in the moments when we wish they did. We can’t force someone to think deeper or be more considerate; we can’t change that negativity they hold deep within even with glimpses of positive energy. Each of us can only be who we are at that time. That only if we are ready to accept the help and willing to put in the effort to move out of that mindset will we be ready to take our next step in our own evolution as a person. If we are around another person who isn’t ready for that, then no matter how difficult it can be to see them in pain or in a storm in which they see no exit, all we can do it reach our hand in to show them someone is there and we’re waiting for them.

We have ourselves to work on and although we want to help others along the way, if they are not able to take your hand in that moment, then that is the time in which we look within ourselves. Look at our reactions to what is occurring, and see what we need. That is where being selfish is imperative. We need to understand how to put boundaries up instead of walls as there may be a time when we are on the same chapter of the book of life. We need to focus our energy on those who do want to grow with us, and allow ourselves leniency that we can’t help everyone but we can put in the time and energy to at least try. Just like most languages, not everyone will speak yours and it takes time for them to retain and follow through on the words they are now learning.

Then there’s me.  Someone who allows her emotions to take ahold of her logic. Emotional driven logic can be a beast, as the possibilities can still be rational but it blinds you from the more positive possibilities (or even negative ones).  I believe I due deserve more effort from others, but the thing is, that’s something I need to adjust.  Not so much as an entitlement feeling, but adding the perspective of other people’s lives into the mix.  That’s where I need to focus on what they have done, what they are trying to do, and also not let trust be mixed up with their follow through.  

As an over thinker I see many possibilities, and when I start seeing ones in which I notice distancing or potential endings of friendships I tend to go full force into fixing the friendships even before the other person notices what is happening. This has time and time again, caused more issues and pushed more people away. So during those times maybe I need to do what I can, but also understand that possibly at that moment in time the relationship is going to have space. We can’t all hold onto these amazing relationships in which every day is filled with laughter, discussions, and growth. That although if we all were on the same chapter, then yes we could enjoy a consistency of interaction that we once had, but that’s the issue.

We aren’t all on the same chapter.  Some people have medical issues; others have new additions to their family; some people’s mindsets may become more adventurous; others may become more closed off; and then you’re left with disconnections in some relationships as there is a shift in what was known.  When this shift occurs that’s when we see the strength of the friendship.  Some people may find compromises while others will shut them out.  Some may distance themselves and become unavailable while others will keep their line of contact constantly open.  Then resentment may start occurring when the other person notices more negative choices being made while the other person doesn’t even feel like they have a choice.  

This is where we must remind ourselves of the relationship previous to this hardship, this hurdle. We must trust that it isn’t personal and that the other person would communicate, but based on baggage this will be difficult. That is when selfishness is important. Although we can do some things to help alleviate tensions, we must also look out for ourselves. If every idea thrown at the person is being swatted away, then it is time to focus on ourselves. Reflect on what was done and what wasn’t; take their pain into consideration; attempt to discuss or explain the paths that were taken and options that were there; and if there is still conflict then it’s time to show confidence and acceptance that it is time to use that energy you were putting into the relationship and use it on yourself and other people who are accepting of it.

Those insecurities and anxiety you feel; the frustration and anger you feel comes from pain. Not only from past experiences but also with this current interaction. Pain will bring out the worst in us and it’s not always an accurate portrayal of what is occurring, but it is still something that is felt strongly and will push us to react in ways to prevent ourselves from feeling it.

That’s where I am right now. I recognize that my pain drives me during more difficult encounters. In those moments it is difficult to see the other perspectives. My reactionary period is far smaller than it once was, but it still is there and I’m still trying to allow myself grace that I will make mistakes just as others will. If those people are not wanting to stick with me as I have with them, then I need to understand that I cannot control this. Even if I’m not worth being in their lives anymore, and as much pain that brings to me, it doesn’t mean I’m worthless. It doesn’t mean that all of the years together were worthless. There’s a separation. I can feel pain without it guiding my ways of viewing myself and others. I must continue to reiterate this as, again, in those moments it is difficult to see the difference, but knowing this will help me feel less anger, feel less frustration, and understand we are not all on the same timeline of life, regardless if it is the same date. Today for me can be years into the future for another or the past. My emotional aptitude may be different than others and that even I still have to work on knowing that I can’t fix everything, especially if the other person isn’t wanting my assistance, but I can be there when they are ready to take my suggestions or to just exist alongside them if they aren’t wanting assistance.

I think that’s the important thing for me to remember. Co-existing with people who have different views, opinions, and methods and still finding enjoyment in their presence without hyper focusing on the other portions that may rile me up. Silence doesn’t mean they aren’t communicating. That their tone doesn’t mean they are being mean. Everything I want others to understand about me, I need to do for them as well. We all have so many amazing parts inside of us, and it is a shame that we let go of people because we feel like we are unable to co-exist with them. So here I am, unable to probably repair previous relationships (although I still try), but going forward trying to remind myself just like I would when learning anything else (constant practice) that I can be around people who I do not fully understand; who do not fully understand me; and who are not on the same timeline as me.

All I need to do is set up boundaries and remind myself that intentions are a spectrum just like most everything else. Although someone may want to cause pain it doesn’t mean that is the only thing they are wanting to do with what they say. There may be something else beneath their words. Although I may take things personal, it doesn’t mean that communication should shut down, but instead have an open path (eventually) from both sides to discuss the message and work on the phrasing. Bringing up things that have been said in the past although may feel like they contribute to why you feel the way you do, and to a certain respect they might, but it isn’t fair to dismiss that the person has shown growth since then and that isn’t a fair assessment of them now.

Ultimately, what I can do in the present moment is be the person I want them to be to me, regardless if they are or not.  As I have standards for others, I need to uphold this standard myself.  Even if the view looks slightly different, or I feel there is an imbalance, my consistency is necessary.  My patience is deserved by all, including myself, and forgiveness for all of us trying to work through our individual cognitive behaviors at different paces is imperative in relationships.

I’m sorry for all of those people I have hurt along the way. I never wanted to allow my pain to take ahold of me, and although I’m still working on my reactionary responses, I truly am sorry for not weighing your side as heavily as I weighed my own. I did think of you and your perspective, but I understand now, that there was a bias there to protect myself. I’m sorry for this, and going forward with current, new and old relationships, I will try my best to do better with removing that bias, and understanding my place in other people’s lives is not for me to decide.

Until the next Scenario.

Published by SandraScenarioS

Attempting to do a project for myself to not only make people smile but to improve my skills and learn new ones.

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