What are you actually reacting to? (The Wednesday 1-2-3)

Happy Wednesday Reader!

We’re just four days away from the Embodied Liberation workshop I’ll be co-hosting this Sunday with licensed therapist and purity culture researcher Jenny McGrath.

If you're working to untangle narratives about sexuality and bodies that were handed to you in religious spaces, I hope you’ll join us.

(And check out the exciting announcement at the bottom of this email as well!)

Here's 1 teaching, 2 questions, and 3 resources to explore this week:

1. Teaching

For the past five years, I’ve often included what I call the “operating system” framework in my workshops and classes.

Here’s the quick version:

When we’re on autopilot, we typically experience life from our default operating system:

Stimulus → Reaction → Reflection

When things happen to us, we just react. (Stimulus → Reaction) We don’t think too deeply about it or spend much time in introspection; we “just keep swimming” as Dory says in Finding Nemo. This is us in our day-to-day survival mode. (And if we’re lucky, we have some time for reflection later.)

But there's another way of operating – one in which we lean into the space between Stimulus and Reaction.

It's in this space that, if we have active practices of awareness and presence in our life, we can choose a more intentional Response to what’s going on around us and inside us.

Stimulus → Awareness → Response

By expanding our capacity for awareness, we can make better choices, be more fully present to our own aliveness, and ultimately feel a deeper sense of meaning and purpose.

A few days ago, as I was preparing for an upcoming trip to Oakland for a somatics training, I re-read this quote from one of the training leaders, Staci Haines. It gave me another way to think of that “in-between space” of Awareness:

“I know this may sound strange, but so often what we are reacting to is not being able to tolerate what is happening in our own sensations, emotions, and experience. We react to get rid of the feeling, to push away the sensations, because they are associated with something intolerable, painful, and uneasy.

Increasing our ability to 'allow for' sensations and emotions gives us more choice and decreases our reactivity.”

In other words, we're often reacting to the discomfort of our own internal movements, not the in-front-of-us realities of the moment.

Here’s an example of this from my life:

Last week, I felt myself growing frustrated at work at how slow a change was being made.

But when I reflect on it now, I realize I was actually growing frustrated at my own inability to tolerate the difference between my desire for speed and the actual speed of the group. If I had paused, taken a few breaths, and empathized with my colleagues in the room and their reasons for moving at a different speed, I have a sneaking suspicion much of that frustration would have lessened.

If I had been more present and aware, I would have been able to better tolerate the difference between what I wanted and the wants and needs of others in our meeting.

And that would have seriously changed my actions.

When we become more aware of what’s happening within us and around us, our ability to tolerate what’s really happening increases – and therefore opens new doors for intentional action, activism, and healing.

2. Questions

  1. How has this been true in your life? When is a time you've found yourself reacting more to your own inability to tolerate your sensations, emotions, and experience than to the experience itself?
  2. What are the top three sensations or emotions that come up for you in the midst of conflict (whether personal, communal, or societal conflict)? Try writing them down and asking them: what are you afraid of in these moments? What would you need in order to "stand down?"

3. Resources

⏪ If you missed last week's email:

I shared a teaching from Dr. Hillary McBride about untruths we've been told about our bodies.

🧩 Community Question

What is a "crossroads" you feel you're at in your life right now?

A big thank you to Ruth, Justin, and Pat for sharing your responses to last week’s question about what you’re currently doing to honor and care for your body. In his response, Justin recommended the book The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renée Taylor and I wanted to pass it along to you as well 🙂

😁 Exciting Announcement

We have another inner work cohort starting up in May!

On May 5th, we’ll kickoff another 30-day cohort and we have some amazing workshops lined up:

  1. Creating a Daily Practice That Fits Us
  2. Mapping our Lives and Seeing our Stories
  3. Looking Inward with Internal Family Systems, w/ James A. Pearson
  4. The Tinkering Workshop
  5. Community Council
  6. Embodying a Posture of Healing: Sites of Shaping/Sites of Change
  7. Navigating Conflict + Change w/ Abi Robins
  8. Developing Practices for Sustainable Activism
  9. Celebration + Reflection Call

I’m really excited – I think this is going to be an amazing month of engaging in daily practices that actually fit who we are, learning to see ourselves with soft eyes, and becoming more intentional with how we interact with our communities.

If you’d like to be added to the interest list, just click here and I’ll let you know when registration opens! (You’ll be redirected to the cohort page, but no need to do anything! Just by clicking the link, you’ll be added!)

Hope all is well-enough with you,


IG: @andrewglang

The Wednesday 1-2-3

Inner work frameworks, practices, and questions – all in a five-minute read. Delivered to your inbox every Wednesday morning before you even wake up. Written and curated by Andrew Lang.

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