Are You Too Reactive? Read This

Marriage and Family Therapist By Shelly Bullard, MFT
Marriage and Family Therapist
Shelly Bullard, MFT, is a marriage and family therapist with a holistic and spiritual approach to relationships. She has worked with thousands of clients on improving their relationships with others and themselves.

One of the greatest challenges we face is staying open to love around people who feel unloving to us. How do we act with kindness when people are being mean? How do we forgive when we are not being forgiven?

Sure it's easy to do all the wonderful things that love entails—to be compassionate, honest, open, and authentic—when others are acting in those ways too. But being loving in the midst of behavior that feels negative or toxic is much more of a challenge. And that's what I'm going to talk about today.

We are all interconnected, more so than our eyes reveal. And because of this, we strongly feel the energy of people, places, and things that surround us.

Energy itself is contagious. For example, the energy of an open heart spreads like a wild fire. Happiness produces an aura of "good vibes."

Think about it: how does it feel to be around people who smile, laugh, and have a generous, loving energy? Damn good, right?! Because an open heart is contagious, it's likely to cause you to open yours, too.

And unfortunately, the same goes for negativity. Simply put, it's not enjoyable to be around grumpy or depressed people. It's unfortunate to say, but things like defensiveness, coldness, arguing, and awkwardness are all contagious, too.

Because we are so sensitive to energy, we can feel tossed around by whatever comes our way. A friendly stranger smiles at us on the sidewalk? Then hey, we smile back. But if we get a scowl, oh man, watch out.

If we are living in constant reaction to what others are doing, then we feel powerless over our lives. But, believe it or not, there is another way to live—a way that gives us a lot more power in more ways than one. What I'm talking about is living proactively.

Living proactively means we decide the energy we are going to lead with regardless of what others bring to the table. A proactive person acts with intention. They have a goal in mind and no matter what, they maintain aim towards that goal.

So if love is what you want, then being proactive is trying to act with love in everything you do. (Yes, I said everything you do. But I'm talking about practice people, not perfection.)

This is how leaders live—this is how people change the world.

Most of us live reactively. This means we are taking a backseat to our own lives! No thank you—not fun!

If your moods and reactions are dependent on what others do and don't do, then there is no other choice but for you to feel tossed around. But if you choose to take a more proactive stance, you will feel more empowered and less reactive to what everyone else is doing.

Of course even if you live proactively, you're going to feel tossed around from time to time. But the difference is you're going to get back up, dust yourself off, and keep your goal in sight. If peace is what you want, then you better believe you are going to aim for peace. No matter what.

This is powerful stuff. Very cutting edge. Very courageous. Visionary.

When you're taking a stand toward love, something to keep in mind is that people who are "negative" don't really want to be that way. Being an a-hole isn't fun; it's the result of suffering. And when someone is suffering what they could really use is a little love.

You can lead the way. You can smile at the person who scowls; you can brush off the person who cuts you off in the parking lot. These actions aren't easy, but you can be sure that they will make a difference in more ways than you can imagine.

As Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Change starts within us. We can't wait for other people to be kind; we have to be the kind ones now.

People are always going to tempt you to close your heart. But you don't have to fall for it. You can push your own edges to be a more-loving, more-peaceful person. You can proactively choose to do this whole thing differently.

I challenge you to be the change that you want to see in your world. Aim yourself towards love, be the peace that you want to feel, and let me tell you, one open heart at a time, you can change the world.

Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT, is a marriage and family therapist with a holistic and spiritual approach to...
Read More
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Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT, is a marriage and family therapist with a...
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