Respond vs. React
A car cuts you off on the highway. Do you respond or react?
Someone takes the last [insert something desired] right from under your outreached hand. Do you respond or reach?
It snows 6 inches on the most important day of your life (this week). Do you respond or react?
Your car gets crashed while you’re shopping and you come out to an empty crime scene, no note on the window no witnesses. Do you respond or react?
What about the really hard stuff. What about the life changing stuff.
Reacting: to exert a reciprocal or counteracting force or influence, in other words, a knee jerk push back at the thing that has affected you. You push back at the car that cuts you off, you push back at the person that took the last shiny apple, you stomp angrily around talking smack about the snow. Get it?
Responding: to say, write or do something as an answer. In other words, an opportunity to understand the big picture, the wholeness of what’s involved and to involve yourself by understanding who you are to all of that and to yourself. Are you just a person driving down the highway affected someone who cut your off, or are you so much more, with so many different and better things to think about? Are you just a person wanting that apple, or a person willing to share and look for a different solution.
The point is if we spend out lives limited by reacting to what occurs how will we even notice when opportunities are offered? We won’t because we aren’t thinking with the intent to respond to life we are reacting. Noticing possibilities requires your attention to things that may not necessarily directly affect you, that requires thought… that requires that you spend more time responding to events and circumstances than reacting.
The easiest way to set this kind of change into motion is to start to think about who you are. Think about the person you want to be, and what that means in terms of what you are willing to think about. Are you the person that spends half the morning talking about the person that cut you off on the highway, or the person that recognizes talking about something like that has no positive consequence and you are all about positive.
Who are you to you?
Still challenged by reacting, what about using the age-old tool of counting back from 10? You know it only takes 7 seconds to defuse your emotional response and 17 seconds to start a new emotional response.
Next time you recognize that you are reacting, count to 10. Then think of something else that will provide you with relief. I’m sure you’ve heard this before… for years, people suffering from anxiety over public speaking have been encouraged to picture the audience in their underwear, the same holds true for frustration, anger, sadness. When we choose to change from reacting to responding this is a great tool for providing ourselves with emotional relief.
I’m saying emotional relief because most negative thoughts and reactions are emotional responses to a situation or circumstance or event. Find a way to work your way to a more pleasant emotional response and you will find relief to your need to respond rather than react.
We are NOT the event or a circumstance…. we are who we think we are.
Have an amazing day!