Taking it Personally – Reaction versus Response

Recently I fell into a whole selfcreated story around my worth and my competence in relation to my work as a nurse. This happened because I assumed something and reacted.

What happened was that one of the patients that a colleague and I were responsible for was allocated to someone in a different team. My colleague was still involved with this patient but I had been removed. I had returned from days off to find out in a roundabout way the patient was now on the other team’s list, and that my colleague and the other team nurse would be working with her. It all felt a bit ‘hush hush.’

I immediately went into a reaction. But I didn’t share this or ask any questions to find out the reason. I doubted myself instead. How many of us do this to ourselves?

“What have I done wrong?”

“Why doesn’t the patient want me?”

“Everybody obviously knows about this, how embarrassing.”

I shrank and made myself small. This then began to be reflected back to me rather quickly as I was so affected that I did a couple of things very awkwardly. I had taken on ‘wrong,’ ‘not worthy of being a nurse’ and ‘shame of being singled out’ – personas which were definitely NOT me.

I still did not ask what happened or try to resolve the situation straight away, but allowed the feelings of unworthiness to fester and build in me. It is astounding the stories we can concoct when we place ourselves in such positions!

It felt terrible. Especially since it is rare now that I do this. I generally stay very solid and connected with me and can feel very clearly whether something is true or not.

I eventually came to my senses and realised I had totally abandoned myself because of an assumption. I saw that I had an investment in people liking me, in needing to be seen to be ‘a good nurse’ and in not making mistakes.

I knew that the only thing to do was to ask directly and I felt to do this openly with the other nurse, no matter who else might be in the office. It felt like a useful topic to discuss between us all because I knew I was not alone in this experience – it has happened to most of us.

So, the next morning I asked if there was a reason the patient had been moved: “Was there something I had or hadn’t done to upset the patient or the family?” and “If there was, could we talk about it as I would really prefer to know straight up so I can learn from it rather than it being hidden?”

They all laughed in surprise and someone said, ”No one would EVER not want you to be their nurse!”

I shared about my reactions and they said, “You’re not alone there,” and “Isn’t it horrible what we do to ourselves?”

A great discussion around reactions in our work ensued. It was wonderful. I could feel we all felt supported by the fact that I had spoken up and asked the question and that we might all do that more readily if anything similar should arise. It was like we now had permission to be more open about such situations.

It turned out that part of what I had been feeling was true in that something had happened, but it was concerning another nurse who had been assigned to and had had a difficult event occur with the patient while I was away. She had been working together with my colleague to tie up the loose ends to the satisfaction of the patient, her family and themselves.

I had made it ‘all about me.’

I learned a lot:

  • To not assume anything
  • To ask questions or express what is going on for me before letting things get out of hand
  • To remain present and connected with myself as I normally would have, which naturally ensures that I am able to respond to a situation rather than react to it.

I recognised that a past hurt led to this reaction and began taking steps to address that. Why did I need to be accepted and recognised as a ‘good or perfect nurse.’ Aren’t I enough as I am?

And, appreciation for myself was needed for speaking up, even if it had taken a while.

Through this experience and being willing to look at my part in it, I also got to appreciate my awesome colleagues for their openness and honesty and their willingness to go there with the discussion around such reactions.

By Jeanette

Related Reading:
Why are we so reactive?
An intense day?
Reaction versus response

661 thoughts on “Taking it Personally – Reaction versus Response

  1. It’s never personal. Our reactions are just an exposure of our addiction to creation. It’s never about x y z, or whatever story we come up with, but always showing us the huge investments and addictions we have to creation.

  2. I’m learning to stop the stories that can go on in my head. Like I like silence in my day – so things like background TV or car radios aren’t my cup of tea, it’s like I can’t hear myself think. Well, so too with these stories in my head, possible scenarios etc. they’re like background noise circulating about making me feel a little nauseous and not with myself. Not great at all.

  3. Jeanette this is one of the best blogs I have ever read, because I can so relate. Since reading this blog it has been easier for me to realise when I am being paranoid and letting self doubt in instead of seeing it for the clarity it is.

  4. It is great Jeanette how you can share so openly with us that you realised how you had created this whole story and drama about nothing, so we can all relate to similar circumstances we have created. I know I have many stories I can learn from with this exposure of the games.

  5. I know and understand that everything is energy, yet when it comes to people I don’t feel the energy first. I make it all about the person and take it personally. I know that I would react less if I observed what energy someone is in (including myself) and then I wouldn’t get taken by surprise so much.

  6. I absolutely love this, it’s all about not letting our imagination fester and instead going straight to the source, to find out what is truly going on.

  7. ‘eventually came to my senses and realised I had totally abandoned myself because of an assumption.’ I have done this so much and reading this makes me realise how unloving this is.

    1. It is so easy to fall into the trap of taking things personally when we are still learning that everything is because of energy first and foremost. For me at the moment the scales are tipped in favour of the former, but with increased awareness and observation I am hoping the balance will soon tip the other way!

  8. When I react and take things personally I completely shut down any opportunity to learn. It is like in reaction I become impenetrable to what is on offer. When I don’t react and see the opportunity to learn, there is a rich exchange that many can grow from.

  9. I reacted the other day at work that was out of form for me. Our office is small and open plan. There are seven of us in the office and consist of: the boss, two for finance, three maintenance managers and head of security. There are four that are non-sports people: the boss, finance and me. I was having a conversation with one of staff when a football conversation started with so of the workers and the all the others in the office that all support different teams. The crescendo of voices vying to support their teams rose to an all-out din to the point I could not hear the person I was talking to and just said WHAT! I stopped enjoining them by not reacting further by finishing the sentence with a ‘what the (expletive)‘. My short expression worked, and the din ended.

  10. “I fell into a whole self–created story around my worth and my competence….” and that is just what we do, fall/ dive head first into our stories without the understanding of energy first.

  11. When we take something personally, we are stuck with what we are feeling in ourselves, and it is so great to observe whether we are in reaction or response, because that is the way out of this repetitive behaviour so many of us can do all the time.

    1. I notice that the less time I spend looking after myself on a daily/weekly basis the quicker I am to react to any given situation. The more time I spend looking after myself the easier I find it to respond to a situation and remain steady.

  12. I am realising recently that it is super important to be aware of those thoughts that come into our heads and can take us way off track or blow things completely out of proportion. They can sneak in when you least expect it and one of the ways to combat this is to maintain a steady consistent connection with the body and from there an awareness as to the energetic quality of these thoughts so we can tell if they are from love or not.

  13. In the past if I ever reacted to something I only saw one explanation to it: the other person or the situation was wrong. More and more though, I am noticing that it is possible to know as early as the start of the morning, that it is going to be one of those days! If I ever react, I can trace it back to me being off to start with in one form or another. Turns the whole thing right round.

  14. I’m noticing the clear difference in observing and not reacting recently, and the fact that when I do react, there is a definite purpose to it – it’s like eating a chocolate bar – it’s very intentional too take us out. The irresponsibility is that we do it and don’t care what the impact is on others.

  15. It’s valid to question whether we use the same force that’s coming at us to react or whether we drop into our lived quality and respond from there.

  16. Sometimes can make the assumption that the people we know would not be open to discussing things that shine a light on our own or their behaviour, and then when they do we are surprised. This is a great example of what assuming can do and how destructive it can be.

    1. Agreed, and it is our own arrogance that assumes we know better when actually there is a whole world of unspoken communication going on that if we reminded ourselves how to listen to it and how to read it, we would know what to say, when to say it and actually, if it needed saying at all!

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