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Success with Reactivity

One of the first markers of success with reactivity is that you notice it before you act from it.  The second, is that you accept it rather than tightening against it or telling yourself you shouldn’t react.

While it is true that the more you honor and accept yourself and tend to your needs consistently and in harmony with others, the less reactivity you will experience.  It is also true that, being human, you are likely to experience some reactivity all of your life.  I am surprised at how often I need to be reminded of this simple point.

These first two markers of success with reactivity are usually part of your internal dialogue and sound something like this: “I notice I feel a little off.  I’m reacting to something.  Okay, it’s okay that I am reacting.  Let me just take a minute and feel these uncomfortable feelings.”

The next success marker is that you name it out loud to your partner and ask for time to process it: “I notice I feel reactive and I don’t know what about yet.  I need to take a moment.”

Your internal dialogue then continues: “What just happened that might have triggered me?  What am I telling myself about that?”

When you have some sense of this, you might turn to your partner and express what you found. “I got triggered right after you told me your ex came over and helped you yesterday when I couldn’t come.  I started telling myself that you can replace me.  I don’t believe what I am telling myself, but it is triggering me anyway.  I think that triggered part of me could calm down with a couple of words of reassurance.  Would you be willing to remind me that you love me and want to be with me?”

In sum, the markers that you are successfully handling reactivity are; -Naming it early on for yourself -Accepting it -Naming it for your partner while taking responsibility for it -Noticing what that reactive part of you needs -Asking for help with that need from someone else or from another part of yourself.

This article was meant to paint a picture of the end result of lots of practice with reactivity.  You can read more about the steps in between in other connection gems.  I have put a link for a couple of them below.  You can also search for other articles on my website.

Take a moment now to reflect on a time recently when you have had success handling reactivity.  Make a physical or mental note of the steps you took in that process.  What did you notice (observations of events, sensations, feelings, needs)?  What did you say to yourself?  What actions did you take? For other connection gems on handling reactivity click here:

*click here for a list of feelings and universal needs and an empathy guide.

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1 Response

  1. May 29, 2009
    Aaron Hodges

    ==It seems particularly difficult when that trigger is something a person has very little control over and no true connection with. I think of job situations where someone is working with people that they simply do not like (i.e their essence) or they do not like something about their coworkers (e.g. habits). People cannot just up and change jobs or really force another person to engage them in the workplace.
    ==Think about triggers in terms of degrees. If a person is reacting to something they fundamentally disagree with (e.g. homosexuality, racism, religious freedom) then it seems the dialogue would be different. In fact, the reactivity may not even be seen as a negative even if it produces negative results. If it is something a person is fighting for maintaining or brining about in themselves or in the world then reaction to opposition or turbulence is welcomed.

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