Reducing Stress: Understanding your Reactivity

By Dr. Gary Sweeten

As humans it is in our nature to become angry. The way we handle our anger may depend on with whom we are interacting at the time. For example, I am the second child with one brother who was always older, smarter and bigger than I was. So, when I am with a first born brother who acts like my big brother, I am more reactive than if he were a second born. I tend to be defensive and reactive any time a person lectures me as if I were a little boy!

A friend of mine is highly structured and orderly. She loves it when everything is in its rightful place. When her family fails to clean up after themselves, as her brother did, she tends to be quite reactive. So, do not be surprised if some folks push our buttons more than others. It all comes back to how we are created and treated.

The following exercise will help you identify the differences in your level of reactivity and find ways to be more mindful in your responses. Think of people with whom you have disagreed with in the past. 

Is there one or two you can listen to that you were able to befriend without feeling the need to argue?



Is there one or two with whom you liked to argue and share your thoughts without attacking? 



Is there one or two that you wanted to attack and put down whether you actually acted on your feelings or not? 



What is the difference in them and/or the past relationships you have had with them? 

How do you try to cool your reactivity and desire to attack?

Rate Your Reactivity here.


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