One of my goals is to practice being less reactive. I aim to find and lengthen the pause between external and internal inputs in order to allow myself the opportunity to think and respond rather than react. Initially, my goal was to create a pause before making decisions about food. I have learned to apply my practice of pausing to many aspects of my behavior.
The term mindless eating is not uncommon, however thoughtless eating may be more accurate. When I first began paying attention to when and what I was eating, I believed a pause did not exist. I believed a pause did not exist before a good food choice or a poor food choice. Surely, I did not have a thought between a food choice and the food being in my belly. The decision was automatic and unstoppable. The cookies was consumed before there was an opportunity for me to do otherwise. I then began to pay attention. Much to my surprise I found a nanosecond between a “cookie thought” and a “cookie action”. See cookie. React to cookie. Nanosecond. Eat cookie. I began to pay attention to other moments were thought appeared to be missing from my behavior equation.
I am wondering if reactivity is a mechanism of control rooted in our younger years. Reacting is immediately asserting what we are feeling and thinking. A baby communicates to others by asserting and reacting. A baby lets others know a need exists and the routine result of this behavior is a need being met. Baby eats spinach. Baby spits out spinach. Baby gets alternative food. I imagine that a large percentage of emoting is reacting until we develop and mature. Perhaps being reactive is a form of control that we align having a need met, a positive outcome. Perhaps being responsive as an adult is a more advanced behavior for overriding what we learned before we had the tools to be able to communicate. The rudimentary psychologist in me thinks that we may not move very far from our infantile level of emoting without some effort.
I do not need to read a book or scientific paper on the value of the pause. I experience the positive impact of practicing and achieving the pause in my own life. Insert pause. Think. Respond. Achieve a better outcome than if had I taken action on my initial urge to react. Positive reinforcement at its best.
More to come…..