Actions and Reactions: what’s really going on?  When we are on the receiving end of what seem like mean-spirited actions, it’s really hard to know what’s really going on, It is very easy to jump to conclusions, and they are usually not very open-hearted ones!   

Recently I received an email from a person who was completely incensed at something he believed I had done.  He was irate, angry, insulted, attacking, and vowed never to be in touch again. What a perfect real world example of this topic.

Thich Nhat Hanh has a wonderful quote that I had planned to share, and that fits this situation so perfectly: Actions and Reactions: What’s Really Going On?  Here you have it:

Actions and Reactions: What's really going on?

I’ve been mulling that over for a couple of weeks, and feeling into the myriad implications.

How simple, and habitual, it is to feel insulted, dismissed, left out, when reactive actions or remarks come our way.  It happens between my husband and me with some regularity :-(. Thank goodness, god/goddess/spirit our personal work, and conflict resolution training… (all of the above) that we have self-awareness and many tools to generally sort it out respectfully and reset to well-being and good intentions :-).  

But it isn’t always that way.  Today (which is a big day for me — the  culmination of several weeks of planning for the first Summer Social garden party in our vertical community in three years), I was already dealing with a fair bit.  So when this aggressive/defensive/attacking email arrived, it loomed as an opportunity to remember not take things personally, but to go with Thich Nhat Hanh’s suggestion. And in fact, in this particular case, there was an actual misunderstanding, so hopefully it can be sorted out. That remains to be seen.  

Another piece of this ongoing communication puzzle: it takes two to do the communication dance, but only one to forgive.  Forgiveness is wholly within ourselves — that blessed opportunity to accept, allow, and reset to compassion and empathy. This is a huge topic, and I’ll leave it for now, and keep the focus on being the brunt of others’ reactivity.

Actions and reactions

The truth remains that other people’s seemingly hurtful actions are the result of their own pain and not because they are intending to lash out and hurt us.  

And I would not suggest that even in those rare cases where revenge or hurt might be intended…that’s the top layer of somebody’s motivations. It’s extremely likely that deeper source of the actions is their own pain.  

Big day for me. I’d be interested in your stories that relate to this provocative quote. We are in this together, learning, sharing, growing, evolving. Yeah for the journey!

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook

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