Our ability to escape and avoid dangerous situations is impressive: a child runs out in the middle of the street, we slam on the brakes without a thought; we touch a hot stove, we immediately pull our hand away. In these kind of situations, our quick reactions serve us well; it’s not something we want to get rid of. There are, however times when these reactions aren’t necessarily in line with what’s best for us.
Take, for example, an argument with a significant other or good friend. Something they say hits a sensitive spot, causing anxiety or maybe some anger. We react, throwing the first insult that comes to mind or maybe we avoid, quickly changing the subject or telling them we have to go. Either way, the goal is to protect ourselves, escaping the awful feeling we have and seeking the quickest path to comfort. Our habitual ways of reacting isn’t always the best. In fact, they can bring us more uncomfort long-term.
The problem isn’t just the habit itself, but also comes from constantly and blindly giving into habits. We simply give up our choice, not even acknowledging that we have one. Whether we like to admit it or not, a lot of us go through our day in a constant state of reaction; our environment throws something at us and we simply react back, not really understanding why. Understanding why can sometimes help, but first, awareness needs to happen. We need to snap out of the reactionary state before anything can happen. Even if we still choose to give into the habit (which we probably will for awhile), at least there is a conscious choice being made; waking up from our reactionary black out.