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Transforming Emotional Reactivity

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inquiry & integration

inquiry instructions

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Inquiry:  Who most triggers me into an emotional reaction, and what are the emotions? (refer to introspective guides)

Personal Integration:  This practice can be done alone or with a friend, lover, or counselor. Take one to five minutes or longer to contemplate and answer the question. When done with another, it is essential that the listener remains neutral and encourages you by repeating this inquiry as needed to help maintain focus.  The first step in heightening our awareness is to become acutely aware of the people who are our greatest triggers, and which emotions get activated.  Frequently the people that we are most reactive toward are our love partners, and members of our family.  Once you identify these important attachments in your life, then it is vital to identify the feelings they trigger in you.  (refer to Introspective Guides on Feelings and Needs)  It is of great benefit to know if certain people in your life lead you to feelings of anger, helplessness, insecurity, or alienation.  This identification can help you prepare to take a greater responsibility for your own feelings, and allow you to be more alert as to how to pursue inner peace.   You can't know that you need greater peace unless you know that you are missing it.  The more specific you can be in which challenged emotions arise, the more specific you can be as to what you need to heal.  This will become clearer in later inquiries.

Inquiry 2: What are the thoughts that normally come forward, and what is their tone?

Personal Integration 2:  Follow the same instructions as above in the monologue or repeating question format. In addition to the feelings that are evoked by different people and situations, it is helpful to know specifically what your reactive thoughts are.  These thoughts create more feelings, and become part of a chain reaction.  For example if someone makes you angry, and you follow it with "I hate it when they do that to me" it will create more anger.  The thoughts are the driving force that sustain the feelings. This awareness allows for the possibility of changing the thoughts, as you see how they are aimed at making something outside yourself responsible for your emotions.   Take close note of how frequently the thoughts that emerge when you are reactive are usually reflecting negative judgments toward the "other" and occasionally, yourself.  This negative thinking is something you can effect in terms of accountability and opening your heart.

Inquiry 3: Which thoughts would be examples of you recognizing your emotionally reactive states? 

Personal integration 3:  Follow the same instructions as above in the monologue or repeating question format.  Now we are starting to focus on what could create the healing instead of an endless chain of reaction.   We can observe, "oh that's right, I am having that reaction..maybe I could respond different than a Pavlovian reaction."   "It is my emotions, and I know that I don't want to continue this negativity."   "Even though I perceived the other person as being negative, do I have to activate this negative reaction inside me by expressing it?"  You might also think "even though I think they are wrong or unfair and I am hurt or angry, can I find a way of expressing myself that will create dignity or help me to take care of myself?"   This stage of inquiry is designed to be the turning point that is so rare for many of us, where we are capable of identifying our emotions, feel them, and generate thoughts that can change the direction of how or if they are expressed.   This requires the ability to have awareness, honesty, containment of reactivity, and the wisdom to find a purity of intention that thinks from emotional intelligence.

Inquiry 4:What would it take for me to care for myself while I'm in this state?  (wisdom, purifying intention, inquiry, meditation or silence, essential states)  Mantra: May I be as harmless and peaceful as possible.... 

Personal Integration 4:  Follow the same instructions as above in the monologue or repeating question format.  In order to be able to make this shift from reactivity toward the outside world to responding from your wisdom and heart,  it is quite vital to develop a spiritual awareness and practice.  This can be supported through meditation, inquiry, prayer, or accessing your inner wisdom.   This spiritual training reflects a quantum shift from seeing our emotions as the center of our lives, to cultivating inner peace and spiritual development as being the essence of who we are.  

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Since 1972, Humanistic Spirituality founder Robert Strock has maintained a private spiritual and therapeutic counseling practice that specializes in purposeful living, relationships, spiritual psychology, and death and dying counseling. Humanistic Spirituality provides various spiritual workshops, guided mediations, and licensed marriage family therapists and licensed social work continuing education courses. Contact us to learn how we can help you find inner peace and spiritual awareness through our counseling, or our free guided meditations, videos, audios, writings, introspective guises and more. A warm welcome from the team at Humanistic Spirituality.

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