Life can seem like an endless string of problems when they come from the inside of us. When
our heart is in turmoil, our belly a whirlpool of contradictions. We try and cope with what has
become our reality since our inner most deepest rooted reactions are reflected, mirrored into an
already subjective reality. I believe that these deepest rooted reactions are programmed into us
at a very early age. How to respond to danger? What is danger to a child? Being abandoned I’d
say. An all terrifying reality that you will be denied food, shelter, love and attention. That is where
we learn our first coping mechanisms, our first reactions. We learn to be shy, ashamed, please
and shout. We learn to brush off the pain, hold the tears and do as we are told. For a child this
makes sense since without these coping mechanisms we believe at an age that early that we
will be left to die. Our reactions to the changes of life are set. They are programmed into the first
sheet of code after we were born.
Now as adults we use the same reactions, but since they are hardcoded we believe they are part
of us, of ourselves or our identity. We have trouble seeing the difference between our behaviour
and our reactions. Behaviour being conscious, reactions being subconscious.
So, when adult, we are faced with a challenge we can be hurled back into the past, and instead
of reacting in a conscious manner with behaviour that will benefit us in the long run (a mature
response), we react sometimes with the same mind of that as a child. It is a form of post
traumatic stress disorder or emotional flashbacks. You relive the emotions of abandonment and
react in a way that is very likely to not be beneficial to you in the future. In a way we act like a
child, make a childish decision but are oblivious to it since we think this is who we are.
These are the moments we react out of proportion, when our reaction do not fit the problem. We
overreact. What if life could be an endless string of challenges instead? What if our inner world
could be a toolbox to deal with these challenges instead of being an amplifier to our problems?
This might be an important question to ask yourself, it might change the way you approach a
conflict. A way to try and see this is to look at our reactions in the third person, imagine it or
write it down. Give another name to the main character and write out the scenario. Does this
reaction seem out of proportion? Is something off. Would a psychological balanced person or
mature person react like that? If the answer is no or if there is doubt you might be dealing with a
hardcoded childlike reaction. Are there long term benefits to your behaviour? If so, you are likely
responding in a mature way, a conscious way.
The point, I think, is to start seeing these reactions as the coping mechanisms, reactions of a
child. That does not mean that the challenges are not real and should not be dealt with, it means
that there might be ways to deal with it that it does not harm you any more in the future. It
makes clear that the way that we react is sometimes our responsibility. A responsibility to the
child in us to grow up and realize that we can no longer be abandoned to the point where we
would die of hunger.
Our coping mechanism can become tools to deal with the challenges that come from outside
instead of weapons that we use to defend ourselves from a problem that comes from the
inside. When we accidentally use these weapons we only cut in ourselves, deep into our heart
and into our belly.
Others should take responsibility over how they react to you, but you have the power to choose
how you react to them. Even though it feels the reactions are set and this is how it is. The
reactions are fluid and open to change. Our mind is flexible, elastic. That is why therapy works,
because we can rewrite our reactions, our coping mechanism. We can choose our path and
realize that life, instead of being an endless string of problems can be an endless string of
Ferovalo’s Members Speak:
Joppe Quaedvlieg: Communication & Networking expert
With nine years of experience as a sociotherapist in the Netherlands he developed his
workshops on networking and communication. When he came to Finland to work in the startup
world he created a vast network in Helsinki and an even bigger network in the startup world. His
workshops are personal passion project of him to help the people to cope with the challenges
they have in ethical communication, growing and activating their network & non violent conflict