It takes a different kind of strength to just stand there and not do something.
I’m on a self-imposed Flinch Reaction ban. It’s so scary. It is always exhausting in that undramatic way that discipline always is. But I really cannot live with any more regrets, what-ifs, emotional minefields or acidity. The world is changing, the world is inadequate and I’m coping but I’m okay. That’s what surviving a flinch instinct without flinching teaches me.
No Flinch Reacting means no instant break-ups, no violent lashings out, no dramatic declarations, no angry last words. It also means no sarcasm, no defensiveness, no boundaries, no excuses. I am tired.
I know this sounds contradictory considering I have also done this in the last week. But those did not feel like Flinches. They felt like long overdue actions that had not been taken because I was so muddled up with the Flinching – mine and other people’s. I am still coming to terms with those decisions (goodbyes are always big decisions for me and linger on after I’ve said them). But I do not think of them with regret or doubt, the way I usually do with my Flinch decisions. Flinch Reactions are misplaced punctuation and clearing them away involves putting in full stops where they may not have been, before.
Flinch Reactions are also very impersonal, very big group things. They’re one’s default mode based on what works on most people. They’re bad because every human being is special and every one of us wants to be made to feel that, regardless of the nature of the relationship. Your Flinch Reaction robs the other of their personhood. It’s basically saying you’re not important enough to me to think of you, individually and relate to you in a way that is uniquely you and me.
I am a marketer and I’ve spent a sizable part of my career looking at broad patterns among people, turning them into facts and figures and strategies to sell more. I have no regrets in that. But my personal relationships are not my customer base. And for me to apply the same logic (a.k.a. Flinch Reaction) renders them no more meaningful than figures on my balance sheet.
And finally, saying No to Flinch Reactions is also being respectful and kind to yourself in the same way that saying No to drugs or alcohol is about being good to yourself. I will value my own emotions, instincts and reactions more than things to just toss out in a general template to the world at large.
Yes, this is all good. I’m not complaining. I just don’t know if I have the strength or courage to see this through. And I’m really, really tired in my bones and the mind of my mind. Sleep the sleep of a mind that has not flinched once today. Goodnight.
*Images courtesy Pixabay