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June 3, 2010

No Wrong Response
Experiences Shape Your Reactions

Our individual reactions to events are shaped by what we ourselves have experienced in our own lives.

Our view of the universe is largely determined by our experiences. It is when we are caught off guard by the spontaneity of existence that we are most apt to respond authentically, even when our feelings do not correspond with those of the multitude. Events that arouse strong emotions with us or are surprising in nature can be disquieting, for it often is in their aftermath that we discover how profoundly our histories have shaped us. The differences that divide us from our peers are highlighted in our reactions when these diverge from the mainstream, and this can be highly upsetting because it forces us to confront the uniqueness of our lives.

When our response to unexpected news or startling ideas is not the same as that of the people around us, we may feel driven by a desire to dismiss our feelings as irrational or incorrect. But reactions themselves are neither right, nor wrong. The forces that sculpted the patterns that to a large extent dictate our development are not the same forces that shaped the development of our relatives, friends, colleagues, or neighbors. There is no reason to believe that one person’s reaction to a particular event is somehow more valid than another’s. How we respond to the constant changes taking place in the world around us is a product of our history, a testament to our individuality, and a part of the healing process that allows us to address key elements of our past in a context we can grasp in the present.

Life’s pivotal events can provide you with a way to define yourself as a unique and matchless being, but you must put aside the judgments that might otherwise prevent you from gaining insight into your distinct mode of interpreting the world. Try to internalize your feelings without categorizing or evaluating them. When you feel unsure of the legitimacy of your reactions, remember that cultural, sociological, spiritual, and familial differences can cause two people to interpret a single event in widely dissimilar ways. Examining your responses outside of the context provided by others can show you that your emotional complexity is something to be valued, for it has made you who you are today.

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