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Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
C.M.
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Gary
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
Megan
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
Indepthwoman
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
D.R.
your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
Sherrie
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.

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Reducing Reactivity: Soothing the Sensitive Person

sad woman tears

Some of us have been primed for high reactivity. Our early caregivers or past relationships did not provide consistent comforting and nurturing, so our nervous systems developed a sensitivity to possible abandonment. We tend to react strongly if we feel at all threatened. Sometimes these strong reactions lead to self-fulfilling prophesies. The more we react, the more difficult our relationships are.

I’ve found it helpful to find ways to reduce my reactivity.

Meditation: So many benefits

I took back control of my morning a year ago. I stopped jumping out of bed and hurrying to take care of work and others. I stopped looking at my emails and text requests first thing in the morning. I begin each day less reactively and more deliberately.

I started meditating. Now, I know meditation has many benefits associated with mental and spiritual well-being, but I have recently realized it also allows me to take charge of how I start my day.

I choose to meditate with an application on my phone (insighttimer.com) before I do anything else. Taking that time to center myself and plan my intentions gets my day off on the right foot. It takes the dread out of getting up. I don’t feel like I’m being shot out of a cannon. I look forward to easing into the day.

The purpose of the MORNING ROUTINE is to GET YOU OUT OF SURVIVAL MODE. You do that by giving yourself space in the morning to orient yourself with the person you intend to be. You also orient yourself toward your highest goals and priorities. — Benjamin Hardy

Before or right after meditation, I make a to do list on my phone. I know that sounds like shackling myself to drudgery and demands, but it actually provides relief. I no longer have to maintain that list of tasks in my head. My mind can relax. This is why I often make the to do list before meditation.

Create space for forethought

Your morning routine does not have to be exactly like mine, of course, but I do recommend leading your life instead of being dragged behind it. To lead, we have to know where we want to go.

When we create space to ponder our priorities, gratitude and goals, decision-making is easier. We know what we value and spend less time putting out fires made by others. Our nervous systems rest easier. Constantly reacting to others and our environment keeps us on high alert, which drains our energy.

To keep our sensitive nervous systems calm, spend time at the beginning of the day, contemplating what truly matters. What are you fortunate to have? What do you long for? What is your gut reaction to a current dilemma?

Reactivity in parenting

There was a time when my mom nerves were so frazzled I had a hard time not snapping when little mishaps like a child’s spilled milk occurred. It took everything in my power to not yell. Sometimes I did anyway. A big unnecessary reaction.

In those days, I put a lot of pressure on myself to have everything running smoothly. Everyone had to behave well, look nice and be happy. Everything had to be in its place and state of the art. If someone or something dared to step out of line, I took it personally and reacted accordingly. I got defensive. I blamed others or outside circumstances. At first, I got really uptight, then I was sad and ashamed of my behavior. Eventually, I withdrew. Unhealthy reactions.

Claim space for yourself

I’ve found it helpful to make plans that include others’ needs but also my own. If we let everyone tell us what we need to do, we run from urgent need to urgent need without any prioritizing or thoughtful contemplation. I understand sometimes there is no time for contemplation, but most of the time there is, we just have to claim it. Keeping space for our self-interests — which we know because we’ve taken the time to consider them — keeps us from becoming doormats or reacting negatively.

Reactivity in romance

Just like within a family relationship, within a romantic one, we need to focus on responsiveness not reactivity, especially when in conflict. Responsiveness includes a pause to choose our action. It includes determining whether we are reacting to an old wound or the current situation.

It’s key to listen to what the other person says and determine the true meaning behind it, versus listening and then determining how to protect ourselves with defensiveness or criticism. Most people do not start conversations with the intention of making us feel bad. They want to be heard, just like us.

Four big ways to reduce reactivity

What helps me be less reactionary in relationships?

  1. Quality sleep: If we’re tired, we’re apt to be more emotional. Our patience diminishes. Get at least seven solid hours of sleep. Sleep soothes sensitivity. Protect that time, everyone benefits.
  2. Feeling emotionally safe: Having a person (or persons) in our lives who makes us feel at home and at ease with ourselves and them, lets us stop scanning the horizon for threats. No threats, more relaxing, fewer strong reactions.
  3. Space within the day: Do not cram your schedule. Hustling from one activity to the next with no rest, is not natural. It increases our stress hormones. It increases our chances of outbursts.
  4. Meditation: Back to meditation. Meditation trains our brains to focus and refocus without berating ourselves for getting distracted. It teaches us how to stay present. It shows us how to create stillness within ourselves. All of this leads to a more calm, centered self.

 What makes you lose it? What helps you stay calm? 

 

photo credit:Photo by Luis Galvez on Unsplash

 

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2 Comments

  1. Michael Buley November 9, 2018 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    Brenda, sort of an aside kind of note …

    It would be quite something to be with a woman who is so open, earnest, honest, seeking, loving, trying, wanting, learning. Who can talk about all kinds of things, wants to, does … who reads, wonders, is curious, stays open, sincere, able to find laughter in all kinds of situations … lol …

    Your man — is it Mark? forgive me, I don’t remember at the moment — is one very, very lucky man. You are one extraordinary, very special woman.

    • Brenda Knowles December 4, 2018 at 2:43 pm - Reply

      Sorry for my absence Michael. I’m working on a new project for brendaknowles.com. 🙂 Thank you for your kind words, and yes, my guy’s name is Mark. You are so generous with your compliments. I really appreciate your support.

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