Reduce emotional reactivity

grayscale photo of sleeping woman lying on bed

When we start our morning, we chose how we want to begin our day. Each morning is an opportunity to set the tone for our day. If you begin with a balanced mind, you will be more likely to seek and find more equanimity in your day.

As soon as we wake up, our senses become our window to the world and our inner experience. Before you open your eyes, you can hear, taste, smell, and feel with your sense of touch. Each day we take all things in through our five senses.

Our senses wake up our awareness and activate our responses to the external world. Your sense of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste define how you label your life experiences. They alert you to your joys or dislikes. From them, you decide what you welcome and what you reject.

Through your senses, you judge and chose to act, ignore or avoid everything. Your brain notices the negative and unpleasant experiences because of the senses. Your brain pays more attention to your dislikes so you can figure out a quick way to go back to comfort.

Often, when we experience something pleasant, we don’t notice it as much as the unpleasant. If we all notice more the things coming through our senses, we can change our brain’s focus. We can also develop more mindfulness and chose more balanced responses in our lives.

Noticing what you take in through your senses can become a self-help tool. It can help you understand better your stress, anxiety, unhappiness. Noticing the positive, joyful, and optimistic things you have will reinforce mental resilience.

I want to invite you to set a mindful intention for this week. Your intention is to notice what is coming in through your senses. For the next 7 days, pay close attention to your behavior when you sense something.

Start with your morning.

Begin your intention from when you wake up. Take a moment and do not open your eyes when you notice that you are aware. Keeping your eyes close, notice what comes in through any of your senses.

You can ask the following questions:

1. What can I notice?

2. Where does it come from?

3. Have I noticed this before?

4. Am I comfortable or uncomfortable or nothing?

5. How does my body react to this experience?

Continue practicing in the day

You can set reminders on your phone or schedule to take a mindful break to pay attention to your five senses. You can also practice when you eat or drink, go for a walk, take a shower, drive or wait in line at the store. Anything can turn into practice as long as you connect with one of your senses.

As you notice the sense, you will pay attention to your reactions, emotions, and feelings. This process builds mental resilience. It works with engaging your brain and retraining it not to be reactive. If you keep repeating these steps, you will change your brain wiring.

You will be reducing emotional reactivity and creating emotional regulation. When you can regulate your emotions, you can choose a balanced response. Every day you can choose to stay where you are or choose to notice more what you take in. If you desire to stay more present and centered, try this mindful practice.

One question

What can you notice through your senses right now? How does it feel in your body?

One quote

Your emotional reactions to the evil you encounter and your judgments of it show you what you need to change in yourself. Changing those parts of your personality that judge, react in fear, and cannot love into acceptance, fearlessness, and love is the journey you were born to make.

Gary Zukav

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