First Responses

My first response to a highly emotional situation is not always great. I might want to yell out in anger or to take offence to everything said or to simply shut down, refusing to engage with those unfortunate enough to be around me at the time.

These times of trial are testing grounds of my resolve to respond appropriately even when my preferred first response better suits how I feel.

And that’s where it gets hard.

Most of us are taught that our feelings govern our response. Maybe no one said that out loud to you but it was demonstrated through their actions. The phrase “I can’t help but feel this way” comes to mind.

That being said, the greatest problem today is the overemphasis on emotions. Counsellors, books, and talk shows tell us that it’s our right to freely express ourselves.

I fear, though, that this free expression is ruining our ability—and desire—to relate to each other.

It’s not wrong to feel; however, it is wrong to think that everything you feel must be broadcasted to the general public.

Since moving closer to my dad, I’ve experienced numerous emotions—some good and some bad. This move has forced me to evaluate how I express my feelings in family situations. My parents and siblings are getting to know me. Plus, our family dynamic has shifted a lot in the last several months. I came in July and my new little brother came in September. Changes come daily–if not hourly–so everyone has to roll with the punches.

Needless to say, the word that is most often talked about in our home is grace.

We’ve all had to extend a ton of grace to each other. We’ve also had to point out where our first responses were incorrect, so that the root issues could be addressed.

On that note, this won’t be the only time I talk about first responses (but I’ve run out of time today).

Here’s a few questions to think about this week: How often is your first response the one you express? How do you keep your emotions in check? 

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