Reflection #3 : Slowing Down Our Reactions

I’ve been thinking about times when I’ve jumped to an incorrect conclusion. Like everyone, I take information I have about a situation and I respond to it. But when my responses are negative or hurtful, this can be bad. This is especially so when my reactions are based on faulty information. Slowing Down Our ReactionsSo it’s helpful for me to learn to delay the time between an activating event, something that contributes to me feeling negative, and my reaction to it, thus reducing my tendency to jump to an unreasonable conclusion. That is, if I practice.

I recently learned of something called the ETR Model, ETR referring to Event, Thoughts, and Reactions. Often, our thoughts happen so fast in response to an event that we don’t recognize them as even happening. We go straight from the event to a reaction, and then often blame others for our reactions. But it’s our thoughts about events that cause our reactions, not the events themselves.

I find such a perspective extraordinarily empowering.

I bring this up here because I think it’s one of the most important lessons in this week’s story. I think Tolstoy is suggesting that there is a reason, even wisdom, in everything that happens to us. Sometimes we are too caught up in the moment to trust that to be true, to even allow it to be true. Sometimes, because we’re human, what happens to us is too painful to see as having a reason or wisdom behind it. I would never want to tell a person grieving over the death of a child, for instance, that there is a reason for it or wisdom behind it. That would be heartless and rude.

Often, however, after time has passed and we’ve experienced a certain amount of healing after a traumatic event, we are able to recognize something we gained from it having happened. Knowing this, I try to practice bringing this awareness to the everyday events in my life, those for which I may have jumped to a conclusion. And understanding the ETR model helps.

For another take on this subject, I refer you to this article about aging.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing the article about aging. It was very helpful to me and I think it might help my sister whose son died a year ago. In our family we have always forgiven each other, but outside events have been much harder to forget and forgive (understand and accept). I was having trouble with the message behind Tolstoy’s story, but this article helped me to see that you can make a life under any circumstances.

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