Your knee-jerk reaction or unthinking habitual responses to everyday life are pretty much set within you, unless you become more mindful and aware.
Your knee-jerk reactions (also known as autopilot) can come from a good, inspirational place. Yet they can also come from a place of habit.
It’s natural to have a range of daily habits which you go through smoothly and quickly, but it also means that you can get set in your ways across all areas of your life.
Your Knee-jerk reaction
I like to share this quote from Dr Joe Dispenza:
‘95% of who we’ve become by 35 years is a memorized set of behaviours, memories, emotional reactions, unconscious habits, hardwired beliefs, attitudes and perceptions.’
That is quite some store of reactions! This process has come about over your lifetime, much of it due to your Limbic System in your brain, also known as your ‘Primitive Brain’. It has your best interests at heart – your survival. And fear has been the underlying emotion taking charge.
So in certain situations, your defense mechanism of ‘Fight, flight or freeze’ is on the alert.
In a split second you experience fear and your body tenses up ready to deal with it. Your brain then searches for context to what is going on and will find a story that you feel familiar with.
But our processing is usually based on past events. We feel safe behaving in familiar ways, with familiar stories that we can understand. It’s not necessarily always correct or even good for us!
You could be in a relationship which is detrimental to you, yet you stay in it. You have unhealthy eating, exercise or work patterns yet you can’t seem to change. You’re in a job you hate but are too fearful to leave.
Is your ‘Primitive Brain’ running your life?
- to say yes to yet one more demand on your time
- judging someone based on their appearance
- the belief that you are incredible or a failure or not good enough
- unconsciously eating that extra slice of cake or drinking another glass of alcohol
- checking into Facebook or Instagram for the 20th time in a day
- believing what someone tells you without checking to see if any of what they say is based on truth or values of worth (tribal politics for example)
Your primitive brain has chosen for you how to think and behave – whether you realise this or not. Unconsciously, your primitive brain is running your life.
Yet you can make more of your choices consciously and mindfully every single day. You can intercept your knee-jerk reaction when you know there are actions, habits and even beliefs in your everyday life that you want to change.
First you must want to be more conscious and aware before you can create a change in your behaviour.
Question what you usually take for granted.
It’s a start.
‘… Your thoughts have consequences so great that they create your reality.’
Dr Joe Dispenza
I love this website I recently found called ‘Creatures of Habit’ where you can find which creature of habit you tend to be! (Usually it’s a combination.)
I invite you to have a browse to remind yourself just how often you respond with a knee-jerk reaction, almost as if you are making no choice for yourself – it’s also fun!
Dr Joe Dispenza: ‘Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself’
“First we begin to feel the way we think and then to think the way we feel…. This continuous cycle creates a feedback loop called a ‘state of being’ …A state of being means we’ve become familiar with a mental-emotional state… which has become an integral part of our self-identity.”
And I always recommend this book if you are also interested in the details of the brain and mindfulness:
‘The Practical Neuroscience of Buddha’s Brain’ by Dr Rick Hanson
‘What happens in your mind changes your brain, both temporarily and in lasting ways; neurons that fire together wire together. And what happens in your brain changes your mind, since the brain and mind are a single, integrated system. Therefore, you can use your mind to change your brain to benefit your mind …’
Mindfulness & Meditation Courses
I work with people who want to become better human beings – to expand towards your greater capacity. Managing stress and anxiety and changing old habits are great starting points.
Let’s delve deeper into your inner self to explore what meaning you give to your life. And then live a life from your heart. More here.
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation Guide