Like all animals, we are born with certain instincts that are necessary for survival such as knowing how to nurse, and these instincts evolve as we grow older and we need different ones.  Our bodies react instinctively to certain stimuli such as blinking when we have something in our eye or blocking our face with an arm if something is thrown towards us.  We may learn to trust our instincts or gut feeling, which to me is really intuition and not so much a physical instinct.

Some instincts are involuntary and may or may not be controlled, while others are learned by example.  There are plenty of good instincts that we develop, like offering to help someone else or give them a hug when we encounter someone who might need that, or jumping up to help someone who is injured or in danger.  I know whenever I have to hit the brakes harder than usual, my arm automatically reaches out to hold back anyone who might be sitting in my passenger seat from falling forward, even though there is usually no one sitting there.  That’s definitely an instinct.

We might instinctively respond defensively or sarcastically to people or swear when we are frustrated, if that is the example that has been set for us.  Some people instinctively respond very emotionally to various situations, and some people are instinctively very controlling.  When other people treat us poorly, it is difficult for many people to not instinctively treat them poorly in return, rather than treat them how they themselves would like to be treated.  Then there are those people who instinctively respond physically when they are angry or frustrated and want to throw something or hit something or someone.  It is these types of instinctual responses that we must learn how to keep under control, which can be very difficult to do, especially if we have been doing them for a long time.

It is easier said than done, but it can be done with a conscious effort.  The first step is realizing and admitting that one needs to make that change.  That in itself seems to be a challenge for many people that I know, never mind actually trying to change anything.  It’s all about control and will power and finding alternative reactions that are more appropriate or less hurtful.  I wish I had all the answers on this one or could wave a magic wand and make all of my negative instincts go away, or better yet, make all of the negative instincts of my immediate family go away.  If only instincts weren’t one of the few things like love that are just so very difficult to control.

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