Sometimes our emotional responses are like this dress. When the right circumstances present themselves, we resort to the old standbys without even thinking. Perhaps our Loved One comes home high again or acts rudely because they have been drinking. How do we respond in that moment? What default reactions do we turn to again and again when triggered? Perhaps we shout at our Loved One or act passive aggressively. Maybe we use the silent treatment and refuse to engage in an honest manner.
Whether we turn to anger or silence, these triggered responses are a result of our own upbringing and life experiences. They are not right or wrong, but are simply our go-to reactions in tough situations.
So often we find ourselves in the same loop again and again, having the same fights and feeling the same exasperation. But how often do we step back and ask ourselves, “Is this choice serving me well?”
An essential part of AiR’s program is helping you identify your own ingrained behaviors, as well as those of your Loved One. As we discussed in the last sanctuary post, you can’t change your Loved One’s actions, but you can change your own. By altering your entrenched responses, you will stop this repetitive, unproductive loop and improve the relationship with your Loved One.
The AiR site contains a number of useful tools to support you in this process. Module #4 and the corresponding Key Observations exercises will help you identify some of these automatic behaviors. Please make time to watch the module and to complete the exercises.
Right now, please take a few moments to relax and reflect. Breathe in and out. Take slow, deep breaths and let your mind settle. As you watch the video below, think about your own go-to responses. When your Loved One behaves in a way you don’t approve of, how do you react? What is the emotional equivalent of your favorite outfit? What reactions do you turn to again and again? After completing the video, write these observations down in your private journal.