We all have learned responses (re-actions) we fall back to, and many of those automatic responses aren’t very helpful. This is why we find ourselves having the same disagreements, arguments, misunderstandings, fights and same relationships over and over.
When trying to get back your ex, you find yourself falling back to old habits and back to the old relationship despite all your efforts not to.
We fall back to what comes “naturally” to us because it’s easier and it feels “safer”. For example:
- If we grew up with parents who did everything within their power to avoid conflict and as a result never learned how to effectively deal with communication during times of conflict, our learned responses is to run away from difficult situations .
- If we grew up surrounded by destructive patterns of dealing with conflict (yelling, slumming doors, verbal hostilities and even physical violence), our learned response get upset and angry. Or if we are determined not to repeat our parents ways of dealing with conflict, we emotionally disengage (silent treatment) or physically disconnect (no contact) because we fear that we may go out of control (just like our parents) and end up making things worse.
- If we grew up feeling insecure and inadequate and as a result have difficulty positively communicating our feelings and emotions, and effectively asserting our views or position, we fear that if we engage in conflict communication, we will end up being taken advantage of, manipulated, used or worse. So we don’t engage at all.
How we handle difficult or emotionally saturated situations is just one example of how our learned responses or re-actions control how we act and behave in relationships.
Some of our learned responses are peer-learned and some are culturally-learned reactions (everybody does it so it must be right!).
If we are not aware of our unhelpful, ineffective and sometimes destructive automatic responses or are aware but do nothing to reprogram our learned responses, we hold on to them for life. And that means the same disagreements, arguments, misunderstandings, fights and same relationships over and over.
There is no simple fix to learned responses. For some, becoming more conscious of your thought processes and stopping yourself from reacting automatically works. For others planning a better responses and/or meditation can help. But for others, working with a professional to unlearn and reprogram one’s responses is what’s needed.
However you choose to reprogram your learned responses, learning to consciously respond instead of re-acting is a gift to yourself.
The difference between the two sometimes isn’t so clear, but the result or outcomes are significantly different. Also reacting is so much easier than responding because responding requires conscious thought, whereas with re-acting, you draw from past conditioning.
When you respond, you are choosing the responsible-action in a present situation/moment.
Using the example of patterns of dealing with conflict, a responsible-action would answer the questions: What am I doing? What do I want? Is what I am doing getting me what I want?
If what you are doing is moving you closer to what you want or getting it, you are responding. If what you are doing conflicts with what you want, then you are reacting to feelings from the past that a present situation/moment brings up.
Reactions make you come across as emotionally weak, manipulative, insecure, unreliable/irresponsible, trustworthy and even emotionally unstable because reactions fluctuate with whatever feelings from the past that a present situation/moment brings up.