One of my biggest weaknesses has always been how reactionary I am. For as long as I can remember I have always had a hard time controlling my reactions to situations. Whether it was a fight with my parents when I was growing up or taking criticism from my husband, I am too quick to react. It is hard dealing with emotions, especially ones that feel super intense and if you are a feeler like me these emotions can be very overwhelming. What I have learned is the best thing isn’t to react, it is to respond.
During wedding planning, my now husband and I started getting into tons of disagreements and arguments. What kind of tables should we have, what should our colors be, minor details that in the long wrong wouldn’t even matter. I took every disagreement as a personal attack. One day Derek said to me, “Alex this isn’t a personal attack, I am just telling you my own opinion and feelings, why are you reacting so intensely.” At this point I had an aha moment, I had been doing this my whole life. I had been letting my emotions get the best of me.
It was then that I introduced meditation into my life. My husband mentioned the app Headspace and I decided to give it a try. For those of you who have never tried Headspace before, it is life changing. I started with their basic pack and made it a point to meditate every morning for 10 minutes. The first few sessions were very difficult; I could not get my mind to stop racing. I kept thinking Am I doing this right? Am I sitting the right way? Am I focusing on the right stuff? The soothing male voice kept prompting me to just let my thoughts go, to not hold on to any thoughts in particular. He would instruct me to feel my breath, notice my body, imagine a white light shining through me. As I got further into the meditation packs, he started talking about not reacting to emotions. One of the lines that stuck with me the most was about how emotional intelligence is being able to feel an emotion without having to react to it.
Throughout my Headspace journey I have realized that the best approach for me is to feel an emotion, sit with it and respond once I truly understand it. Sometimes you feel hurt by something and you don’t even know why. For me I needed to figure out why I was feeling the way I did. As the weeks went on I continued my daily practice, finished many packs, had good sessions and sessions when I felt my mind was everywhere. The thing is, meditation is completely personal and different every day. I can proudly say that I now have over 1,000 hours of meditation under my belt. I still need work; some sessions feel better than others but I have found I am getting better at not reacting so quickly. I have gotten better at reducing anxious thoughts, realizing most things are out of my control and most importantly understanding that stress is the difference between what is happening and what I want to happen.
I HIGHLY recommend Headspace for anyone who has been considering meditation or feels they could benefit from it. The app is easy to use, inexpensive, and truly helpful. Life is so much nicer when your first response is not wanting to be defensive right away.