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Taking Ownership of Your Responses: Navigating Feelings and Behaviours

One of the most empowering concepts is taking ownership of our responses. It’s a notion that speaks volumes about personal responsibility and the power we hold over our own emotional reactions. But let's be honest, it's easier said than done. When faced with challenging situations or hurtful remarks, it can feel nearly impossible to separate our feelings from our behaviours. However, understanding and practicing this skill is paramount for both ourselves and for the health of our relationships.

Understanding the Connection Between Feelings and Behaviours:

Before diving into strategies for separating feelings from behaviours, it's important to grasp the relationship between the two. Our emotions often serve as powerful catalysts for our actions. When we feel hurt, angry, or frustrated, it's natural to react in ways that reflect those emotions. However, it's essential to recognize that while our feelings are valid, they don't have to dictate our behaviour.

Taking ownership of our responses requires a willingness to accept personal responsibility. Regardless of the circumstances or external triggers, we ultimately have control over how we choose to respond. This doesn't mean ignoring or suppressing our emotions; rather, it involves acknowledging them while consciously deciding how to express them.

So, how do we separate our feelings from our behaviours?  Here are five ways to work with:

  1. Mindfulness Practices: By practicing present moment awareness, we can observe our emotions without immediately reacting to them. This allows space for thoughtful reflection and intentional response.

  2. Emotional Regulation Techniques: Learning effective strategies for regulating emotions is essential for managing reactive behaviour. Techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualisation can help us remain calm and composed in challenging situations.

  3. Cognitive Restructuring: Our thoughts often influence our emotions and subsequent behaviours. Cognitive restructuring involves challenging negative or irrational thoughts and replacing them with more balanced and rational ones. By reframing our perspective, we can alter our emotional responses and behaviours. Professional support is often helpful for this and counselling Redlands can provide you with the skills needed.

  4. Communication Skills: Effective communication is key to expressing our feelings in a constructive manner. Learning to assertively communicate our needs and boundaries can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts. Active listening skills also play a crucial role in understanding others' perspectives and responding empathetically.

  5. Self-Reflection: Taking time for self-reflection allows us to gain insight into our patterns of behaviour and emotional triggers. Journaling, meditation, or therapy can provide opportunities for introspection and personal growth. By identifying underlying issues and addressing them proactively, we can develop healthier ways of responding to challenging situations.

Separating behaviours from feelings can be challenging, especially in emotionally charged situations. Our natural instinct may be to react impulsively based on our immediate emotions, rather than pausing to consider the consequences of our actions. Additionally, societal norms and cultural influences can shape how we express and interpret emotions, further complicating the process. However, with dedication and practice, it is possible to cultivate greater emotional awareness and self-control. By recognising that we have the power to choose our responses, we empower ourselves to break free from reactive patterns and cultivate healthier relationships.

Impacts on Relationships:

When individuals struggle to separate behaviours from feelings, it also has implications for their relationships. Reacting impulsively based on emotions can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and hurt feelings. Communication breakdowns are common when individuals lash out or withdraw in response to their emotions without considering the impact on others. Moreover, a pattern of reactive behaviour can erode trust and intimacy within relationships. When one partner feels constantly on edge or unsure of how the other will react, it creates a sense of instability and insecurity. Over time, this can damage the foundation of the relationship and lead to feelings of resentment or detachment. On the other hand, when individuals take ownership of their responses and practice emotional regulation, it fosters healthier dynamics within relationships. Partners feel safe expressing their thoughts and feelings knowing that they will be met with understanding and compassion.

Taking ownership of our responses is essential for our own well-being and for the health of our relationships. By learning to separate behaviours from feelings and cultivating emotional awareness, we empower ourselves to respond thoughtfully rather than react impulsively. This paves the way for deeper connections, mutual respect, and greater intimacy within our relationships. Remember, our responses have the power to shape the quality of our interactions and the strength of our bonds with others.

Debra Bragança is a registered Counsellor with The Australian Counselling Association and works with both adults and couples impacted from trauma, anxiety, chronic illness, depression and relationship issues, including affairs and betrayals.

She is trained in a number of evidence-based therapies including CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy), CPT (Cognitive Processing Therapy), ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) and Gottman Couples Therapy, including Affair & Betrayal Recovery.


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