What is emotional reactivity?
During my childhood, my mother and father were volatile/violent daily. I lived in vigilance/fear, a heightened state of alertness, so that even alone, in my own little world, I was aware that at some point of the day I would be confronted with threat. Then, I had seconds to react to avoid harm. This operant conditioning, learned behavior, habit, fear-derived reflex, was my reality for years to come.
As an adult, I encountered people (e.g. strangers/managers/co-workers/lovers/friends) who responded to stress like my parents had, and I reacted the way I was conditioned, like a puppet with strings. I was unaware that I and the people around me were out-of-control.
In 2010, I read Melodie Beattie’s book, “Codependent No More.” I began to understand the correlation between my childhood and my adulthood. For years, I searched/studied/practiced every behavioral technique I could find to reverse my maladaptive pattern.
Today, I can feel calm in the midst of stressful events. I can observe chaotic situations/people without stepping into the chaos. I am able to pause/reflect/consider/respond even when others pressure me to react. I know that despite my external environment I have a choice to take my time/center my mind/weigh my options. It’s like having a super power to observe — via sheer will —frenzied events in slow-motion. Having self-control is better for all even though those who only know chaos would like to pull you back into their madness.
Do you pull others into emotional drama? Are your emotions easily triggered? Do you crave drama? If so, you are struggling with the emotional reactive element of codependency, which can be overcome. You can cut the strings.