Have you wondered how to prevent knee-jerk reactions? Why do we have knee-jerk reactions? What are the types of knee jerk reactions we can have?  How can we release our knee-jerk reactions?  Learn how to clear some emotional clutter.

Inspired because we all have knee-jerk reactions.  Probably for me, it happens in traffic a lot. I am a lot better than I used to be. Ten years in LA. And surrounded all traffic enough to make you mad.  I would say in the past that when someone did something to me my default was it was my fault. Something to do with me now I know that isn’t the case.  My default reaction was to fix it.

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What are your knee-jerk-reactions?
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What causes our quick reactions?

Knee-jerk reactions are our quick defenses against anything that we believe might harm us. It makes perfect sense why we have them then, right? Our ego is trying to protect us.  Our brains detect danger before awareness kicks in. Now, there is a benefit. It can save our lives. Knee jerk reaction to jump out the window when the house is on fire. Not so good if we pull out a gun or a knife or our fists in road rage.

They occur when we engage but can also engage in the future.  Right, have you ever gotten worked up about something that MIGHT happen as you go down the crazy road and get little nuts?  I was pretty calm about my wedding, the best according to the woman that helped my mom. The one thing that pissed me off was my husband’s best man and his wife. Thank god the wife didn’t come to the wedding.  Without going into too much detail, had to call a friend to talk me off the cliff cause I went a little nutso about what could happen.

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What are triggers?

Good to know our triggers, right? If we know what triggers us, then it can help us prepare and not go into fight or flight and on autopilot.

Traffic is one we can all probably relate to.   My husband’s former close friend triggers me. He is a jerk to me and thankfully isn’t in my husband’s life much.

Having our integrity, or our intelligence or ideas, or fill in the blank.  Anything that makes us feel attacked. Our values or beliefs. 

Being ignored can trigger us.  Fear of loss of reputation. Perhaps, you want to win at all costs.

Are any of these sounding like reasons to you why you get triggered?

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How to Prevent Knee-Jerk Reactions

Know triggers. Just talked about that. If your MIL triggers you at holiday dinners, have someone have your back, take her away, have a peppy answer, go to the bathroom.

Practice.  Prepare for the situations. The more prepared you are the less likely they will have the power over you.  I write down all I have to say when I need to have an important discussion.  Or I talk it through with someone. I prepare what I can so I respond rather than react.

Have a mindfulness practice in the moment. Maybe you count to 10; draw smiley faces in your mind; breathe deeply, or do tapping.

Focus on your intent.  Bring it back to the present moment. If you are driving, the goal is to get safely home, work, grocery store.  Have a nice family dinner and honor your spouse or patterns wife.

Wait for a better time to respond. Cool your jets and respond later if you need to.

What happens if you start jerking?

You are human. It happens

Become present. The mindfulness part really going to bring it home for you to notice what words you are using.  Notice your physical body. Are your muscles tense, teeth clenched, pulse racing?

Shift attention.  Refocus on you. What others do and say is about them. How you respond is about you.

Walk away. Take a break don’t escalate.

Where do you have knee-jerk reactions? How can you stop a reaction at the moment? What’s your game plan to be more aware and stop knee-jerk reactions?

Take actions from today’s blog on how to prevent knee-jerk reactions:

  • Pay attention. Where do you have knee jerk reactions?
  • Write down what your triggers are.
  • Create a plan to combat your knee jerk reactions.
  • Consider a mindfulness practice if you don’t already have one.
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