REACTIONARY "OPPOSITIONAL" BEHAVIOR
WHY? HOW CAN WE PREVENT THE DAMAGE?
AGAIN, FIGHT OR FLIGHT...
We react with fight or flight to perceived threats.
No great revelation.
But we fail to acknowledge this role in producing our behavior. Somehow we just let it happen and ignore the cause or even fail to notice that something is not working to produce the desired result (and is often causing damage).
Whenever we are emotional and oppositional we are exhibiting a reaction to fear. Strong emotions do not happen other than when there is a believed big threat. [Of course, one might point out that strong emotions occur in the evolutionary imperative to procreate...]
We know from simple cause and effect, where we can trace the effect back to a probable cause and where we can note that the intensity of the effect must, logically, be due to the intensity of the cause (the degree of danger).
THE POINT IS...WHAT DOES IT PRODUCE?
It is not "bad" of the person, it is just that it almost always produces a dysfunctional reaction if we do not intervene and use our higher brains. And if you do not moderate this, you will do damage both to yourself and any other person involved (or at least damage the relationship). .
Of course, this is where just basic awareness of the cue (noticing that you are experiencing "upset" of some sort) plus using the Time Out Tool, to recover use of your higher brain, helps to "correct course" toward somethng that is workable for the truly desired results.
IS THIS REACTIONARY AND OPPOSITIONAL? WORKABLE?
An example is a couple, where one is passionate about "unfairness" in life and helping people. The other is just as passionate about helping people, but more in the "practical" realm of "how can we actually get the results desired in a way that works best?"
He remarks that "at our definition of poverty, many Americans are better off than middle income people in many other countries", simply meaning that there might be something there to look at. Sometimes, he says "we should make sure people are responsible for getting out there and doing the best they can to learn and to work" (he has also said that "we should take care of those who cannot take care of themselves").
Her response is something like "oh, well you don't care about the poor?" Or "so you think the poor should starve to death?" And it appears that her reaction is strong and emphatic.
But she says, well, I'm just asking a question, that's all. I don't mean anything else by it.
It appears to him that it is an oppositional statement or at least one that implies he is callous, uncaring (or could be) - and that he could take an extreme position, whereas he has indicated nothing of the sort. He is surprised, at the least, that she even considers the choice that she has offered as something he would even come close to thinking. He feels the hostility, as there appears to be no intellectual discussion going on here.
Is she being reactionary, exaggerating? Is she "locked and loaded", ready to react on emotional issues? Are such extremes an indication of reacting to a believed threat?
But does his projected potential belief actually threaten her or not?
Is this another facet being oneself feeling he/she has to be right?
Is this a way of making him wrong?
She is not to be blamed for doing what is instigated by human nature (see below), but she is responsible for not causing harm, recognizing it when it does happen, and then corrected her strategies to what works.
Of course, he is responsible for understanding that it is "not personal", but he doesn't quite know what to do to stop this from being an impediment to the relationship, for it creates distancing. And he cannot control her behavior and could offend her in even trying to explain it.
A COMMENT ON "REACTIONARY BEHAVIOR" AND EVOLUTION
As discussed in Evolution, what worked to assure that we survived long enough to procreate caused that gene to be passed on. And, also as discussed, overreacting to dangers and reacting to anything that might possibly be a danger helped to have our ancestors survive. Overdoing it is a natural, evolved role for the mind.
And, we had a strong imperative to get along in the tribe (or die) and to be worthwhile. Any sign of our being "not capable" of contributing to the tribe was a possible threat. And incorrect perception (or "being wrong", stupid, not being correct, not functioning well) on one's part might be an indicator of our not being capable - so it was important to "be right".
This imperative and the reason for it is no longer valid, but we are "wired" for it.
So, it is not "wrong" or "bad", it "just is", it is just "what's so."
It just doesn't work today.
AND THIS WILL CAUSE THINGS TO WORK BETTER IN LIFE
And, if we want things to work better, we have to notice what doesn't work (or project what might not work) and no longer continue that strategy that doesn't work. (Duh!)
This involves actually two pieces:
2. Retraining our thinking process (and our automatic mind)
OTHER EXAMPLES TO ILLUSTRATE REACTIONARY BEHAVIOR
There are lots of possible examples, but in this case we are trying to unravel "innocent questions" from the idea that someone is holding the possibility that the other person is extreme or "bad".
"Oh, so you think it is ok to murder people?"
"Have you stopped beating your wife?"
"So you think ..." followed by some exaggerated or more extreme position projected onto the other person, for which he/she is evil/bad/wrong, etc.....and then a question mark is added - but the implication is that the person who says it, even though asking it as a question, holds that possibility as possibly true of the other person - or why would it be said????
Of course, it could just be sloppy languaging, but the effect is the same.