Before one learns of presence-awareness, mindfulness, the inner world, etc., more often than not, we were just operating out of unconsciousness and conditioned behavior. We found ourselves doing and saying things that just sort of fell out of our mouths or became several decisions and actions before we really offered any reflection. This obviously led to some unskillful and unpleasant outcomes.
Once introduced to the power of presence, we begin to meet our experience differently. We show up more often and more continuously. We can catch the impulses and motivations that we speak and act from. Not always. And not always in time. But more.
First, we become more aware of how we feel after saying or doing something that was not done from presence-awareness. After more practice, we begin to catch ourselves in the middle of our mess, but we still continue anyway. Then, we start stopping ourselves in the middle of our mess and say to ourselves or others, “oh… just a second… let me pause here for a moment.”
In time, one of the fruits of practice is that we feel the impulses in our heart, mind or body, and we are present enough to not bolt into them. The force of momentum has lessened and we find more agency.
In the times when we have, for whatever reason, pursued a reckless and regrettable, or simply just an unpleasant interaction or communication, we still have a way to learn from it.
Retroactive mindfulness. Going back through an event in your mind, with consciousness, awareness and intention, can resolve a lot of the conditioned behavior that caused it. Take time in a meditation to "re-live" the experience. You have the luxury of going slowly. Feel your feelings. Feel your reactions. Watch your mind. Feel the pain of the unwanted behavior. Then be the person you wish you had been. Let the whole process sink in from this virtual space. It does heal something. It changes your cellular relationship to it. And it primes you to have a deeper awareness and capacity the next time a similar circumstance arrives.