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 Mindfully Responding Instead Of Reacting
Orlando Therapist Shares How CBT Helps

Between stimulus and response there is a space
. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. – Viktor Frankl

One of my favorite quotes is the quote above from the psychologist Viktor Frankl. I think it perfectly describes the difference between mindfully responding instead of simply reacting.

When we react, we typically act without thinking and our actions are often instinctive and defensive. When something happens to us that makes us feel threatened, our reptilian brain kicks in and activates our fight or flight response. While this can be a good thing in the face of actual danger, it unfortunately happens all too often. For instance, we often react if we think someone has criticized us or someone is behaving in a way we think they should not behave. We often react when we feel irritated, anxious, pressured, annoyed or angry and our habit of constantly reacting can lead to anxiety, depression and relationship problems, and it can affect our physical health as well.

To respond instead of reacting requires us to first be mindful. Mindfulness is that “space” to which Viktor Frankl refers. It is that space that allows us to be aware and instead of simply reacting, make a conscious, meaningful decision. When we respond, we take a moment to observe the situation and think. It is this “space” that helps us to gain perspective and have a sense of control over our emotional responses. Mindfulness can help us to notice the “space” before we react and cultivate the ability to self-regulate and respond in healthier ways. It teaches us what we should attend to and what we should simply let go or find a different way to address instead of instinctively reacting without thinking. The more we practice responding instead of reacting, the easier it becomes.

Responding instead of reacting has been shown to improve self-regulation. As we become more mindful, we learn to change our tendency to automatically react and instead, observe, describe and involve our self in emotional experiences without simply acting on them. Emotion regulation is regarded as a fundamental aspect of good mental health and research has found that the psychological shift that occurs with mindful responding contributes to overall better social, emotional and cognitive outcomes.

Mindfulness is an integral part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) at GroundWork Counseling in Orlando. Mindfulness increases our awareness of thoughts, feelings and behaviors as they occur, while emphasizing acceptance of our individual experiences. Research has shown that complementing CBT with mindfulness can significantly improve a number of conditions such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders (e.g. panic attacks, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and specific phobias).

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