Are you reactive?

You will recognize a reactive state by the powerful influx of painful emotion or suffering you get from time to time. This can take the form of anger, anxiety, fear, guilt, despair, regret, seeking approval, shame, hatred, frustration and many other similar emotions. It is the activation of your pain body.

Your pain body is formed in two ways – by your own experience and by being influenced by other people’s pain bodies around you. Pain bodies are created when you have an experience, mostly as a young child, in which your sense of security is shattered, and you feel humiliated, helpless, vulnerable, powerless or overwhelmed. The events themselves are not ‘graded’ – individuals can experience the same event in very different ways. You inherit your parents’ and other influential people’s pain bodies, because their own pain bodies will define how they behave, and therefore treat you as you grow up.

What makes a difference is whether you are able at the time of the event to process your feelings and thoughts around it. If you are, the event is less traumatic, and will have little or no impact on you later in life – it becomes neutral.

If, however, at the time, you are unable to process the emotions you associate with the event and let the experience pass through you, the feelings you associate with it will become part of your pain body – they are trapped.

Your ego then learns that when it feels threatened, or not safe, it will do its utmost to stop you allowing yourself to feel the ‘unpleasant’ feelings you experienced then. The feelings trapped in the pain body become like an alarm system – when triggers are set off the alarm bells ring and you rush to automatically handle the perceived emergency. For most people this is not done in a conscious way – it is a reactive process. The alarm goes off when you find yourself in a situation where your ego senses it could feel the pain you felt when you were little, so it takes over your being and protects you. Over time, what your ego causes you to do in these situations becomes very predictable – you find yourself doing things that you always have done to avoid feelings you don’t want to experience.

To give an example of this, you might have had an event when at primary school that you did not like, for example being bullied. The emotion you associate with that experience is humiliation. You learned at the time to survive that feeling by becoming very angry and violent, which helped you survive then. Later in life, if you get into a situation where you start to feel that you could be heading for a humiliating experience, your ego takes over, and you become very angry, very quickly, possibly violent too. At this stage in your life, this might not be an appropriate response to the situation, but it is so automatic you almost cannot help yourself.

The good news is that you can help yourself. The key to dealing with these automatic reactions is to become aware of them. In this way they no longer control you – you start to control them, which gives you space to change your response to one that is more useful in the current circumstances.

A Snapaband can help with this, by stopping the automatic train of thought and action, giving you space to put something more productive in place.

This is one area we will be looking at in some detail for the participants on the forthcoming Direction Seminar, starting 17th April. It is a key tool in helping people to be at their best and experience joy, a sense of direction and fulfillment in their lives. For more information look at

About theclaritycoach

Paul Stonehouse is an experienced coach, educator and speaker, and is completely committed to helping people perform at their best. His particular passion is helping people move forward when they are stuck, enabling them to live and work a in a way which is a confident expression of their true selves.
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