Not many years ago I was dangerously reactive. Hyper-aware and hyper-sensitive, I had little control over my reactions, especially in emotional moments. I would sob without choice and explode in fits of temper. Much has changed since then, and I am grateful.
However, I’ve recently noticed a different problem. I’ve contained my anger so much I barely recognize it at times. And I’ve bitten my tongue metaphorically through. It has hindered me personally and professionally. It’s price is more nuanced than the consequences of my previous explosiveness, but it is undoubtedly there. I worked so hard to get to the point where I could choose not to react that I forgot that I could choose to respond. Indeed, if I cannot assertively respond I have not gained freedom, merely exchanged my old shackles for new ones.
So this is my new challenge, to step more fully into communicating assertively and being authentic in all my relationships. To say what I mean, in full confidence that I can say it without saying it mean. I am no longer a mascot of rage, but I am no longer willing to live in fear of my feelings either.
It’s time to redefine self-control to include both self-reflection and self-compassion.
I want to be aware every situation’s emotional impact and deeper origins, and to be able to respond with dignity and honesty. I aim to be not a prisoner of compulsive action or paralyzing “self-control” (read self-shaming).
I will not treat myself like some rowdy inmate to be kept in check by force. No, my self is at once wise woman and blithe child. I will guide her when she she is sad or scared and listen to her innate wisdom and all it has to tell me.
I will no longer allow myself to self-talk in tones I would never accept from others. It’s time to fully step into who I am. It’s time to be more than a reaction to my former self.