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Look up the definition of “react” and you might find the word “respond”. Look up the definition of “respond” and you’ll find words like “reply”. There’s a difference between reacting and responding that we must learn in our recovery. Trauma is a disorder of reactivity. We respond to the trauma which has occurred in our life by reacting to it. When trauma impacts us, it impacts our mind, our body, and our spirit. Trauma lives in our nervous system, keeping us in a state of constant reactivity from which we respond to life and all of life’s triggers. Our senses are heightened. Our fight or flight system is chronically activated. We have a lot going on in our mind and body, operating from a hypervigilant place. Reactivity usually means unregulated, uncalculated, impulsive responses. Responding tends to mean calm, collected, considered replies. In order to effectively manage our stress and communicate with others in a healthy way, we have to learn how to respond instead of react. Treatment and therapy help us do that. Here are 10 other steps we can take to start responding instead of reacting.

We can take a moment to pause. If we are triggered and our stress hormones are circulating, fighting our survival instincts can be extremely hard to do. Tools like mindfulness help us become aware of when we are going into reaction mode. Tools like deep breathing help us pause in the moment, take a deep breath, and recalibrate our sympathetic nervous system. As we breathe, we can do a body scan and release any muscle tension which might have taken place =Once we are centered, we can think about the situation.We can take a look at our feelings. Reactivity is a coping mechanism in some ways. Going off the handle and flying through our impulsive reactions is painful for ourselves and others, but sometimes seems easier than having to sit with our real feelings. After centering, we can look at our feelings, identify them, embrace them, and allow ourselves to feel them. Feeling our feelings can be challenging because it is uncomfortable. Authentic experiences with our emotions helps us to heal.We can remember how to choose our feelings. Responding instead of reacting is a choice. Making that choice is more difficult when we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to make that choice by pausing. Pausing to breathe and process our feelings gives us ample time to decide if we want to keep reacting or find a way to respond. We won’t always do this perfectly.We can step into compassion. Compassion helps us look at life from the perspective of another, realizing that everyone has moments of struggle in regulating between reactivity and response. What could be going on with the person we are reacting to? What stories are we telling ourselves out of blame, shame, and guilt, because they have triggered us? How can we consider what they might be going through or feeling, especially when we are being reactive?We can forgive. Blaming others and continuing to be reactive is a choice. Nobody likes to be triggered in a way that makes them feel like they are out of control. Remembering that we are in control helps us quickly come to a place of forgiveness for ourselves and for someone we are interacting with.

Life is yours to live once more. If you are a survivor of trauma, you deserve the chance to heal. The Guest House Ocala offers residential treatment programs for trauma, addiction, and related mental health issues. Each program of treatment is custom designed at a concierge level of attention to meet the unique needs and manifestations of trauma in each guest at our estate. Call us today for information: 1-855-483-7800