Taking an Honest Look at Reactivity

I believe working on our reactivity is an essential step in healing, growth, and recovery.

Being reactive is to be angry and guarded, the opposite of connection and vulnerability. When we are reactive, we tend to feel agitated and compulsive. Our mind fixates on the issue or the person that we are targeting and our anger becomes aggression, out to get whoever wronged us. 

In today’s blog, we will take a look at reactivity and offer tools on how to pause before reacting.

The Ugly Side of Reactivity

In our aggression, frustration, agitation, and fury we not only cause emotional turmoil to others, but to ourselves as well. Reactivity can include extreme moments of destruction, yelling fights, self-injury, and substance use.

However, as long as we are reactive, we cannot be in touch with our pain or emotions. Our pain is the real reason why we are upset and angry. Reactivity disconnects us from our pain and we end up losing ourselves in the dramatics of what’s happening – this is unhealthy anger!

man struggling with reactivity

Are You Reactive? Try This

Next time you feel reactive, go to your bedroom or a private space. Begin to speak to whoever you are angry with or whatever situation made you angry. Keep expressing yourself and even make it bigger – exaggerate!

Move your body. Get even louder and use a pillow on your mouth if you need to. Keep going like this for 2-3 minutes until you naturally feel relief.

Lie down on your back now for 5 minutes before you get up and stay with how you’re feeling. This practice gets us out of our minds and mental fixations and into the aliveness of our bodies, allowing us to get in touch with our anger deeply instead of staying reactive.

Once everything settles, you might naturally recognize the deeper reasons why you are angry.

How to Recognize Reactivity Building

How can we recognize when we are being reactive?

  • You feel a sudden surge of agitation in your body and begin to zero in on what someone is saying or doing.
  • A sudden increase in mental activity – a lot of thinking!
  • You lose touch with your body and you disconnect from yourself.
  • You begin to talk fast.
  • You talk with a harsh tone, shaming and blaming others.
  • Self-righteousness and entitlement – everything is about you and how you’ve been wronged.
  • You suddenly shut down, feel hopeless, and want to isolate (repressed anger).
  • You are being passive-aggressive and sarcastic as you shame and hurt the other with your words.
  • You suddenly feel like destroying or throwing things.
man struggling with reactivity

If you’re overwhelmed with reactivity, you don’t have to go through it alone. Reach out for help. Get in touch with a therapist who knows how to work directly with emotions.

When we work with reactivity, it becomes true empowerment and inner stability. You deserve to feel at peace.

Sunshine Coast Health Centre and Georgia Strait Women’s Clinic are world-class centres for addiction and mental health treatment. Through counselling, workshops, and group therapy, we aim to help clients understand their emotions while discovering meaning and purpose. Visit our website to learn more about our program or give us a call.

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