Have you ever had an experience where someone did or said something to you and it really hurt your feelings? Or maybe it made you angry that they would even say something like that, or possibly you felt both anger and hurt? What did you do? Did you react by being mean and saying hurtful things back? Or were you able to stop and think a minute before saying or doing anything that would make the situation worse so that you could respond appropriately? There definitely is a difference between responding and reacting.
Reacting is when your subconscious is in control. It requires no thought on your part. It is instinctual and natural to defend yourself in reaction. It also suggests force and negativity. However, reaction does not take into consideration the effects of what you do or say.
Response, on the other hand, is when you take a minute to stop and think. Then choose what to say or do in the situation, maintaining control and being fully aware of your actions. You decide how to respond with respect and thoughtfulness from a positive standpoint, even if you feel justified in your feelings of hurt.
Choosing to respond rather than react, is being in power of the situation. You may still feel hurt or anger, but you are looking for a way to make it better rather than making it worse with a reaction you will regret later. When you react, you give away your power and the outcome is not going to be what you want. Taking a second to think before you react, in any situation, is when you keep your composure, don’t fly off the handle, and decide what is the best response for me and this situation at this time.
When a situation causes you to feel defensive, hurt, frustration or any other negative emotion, stop and think first. Take even just a few seconds to choose how to respond. By choosing to respond, you leave your mind open to receive ideas that can improve or resolve the situation. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Just don’t get so far down into your emotions that you can’t see anything else. This is a situation where you want your conscious thinking mind to be engaged. And when it is, you have more control of the outcome, more control of the end results of an emotionally charged situation.
There are many different circumstances which can cause an emotion that will tempt you to react. Realize that often it has nothing to do with you. It may be something going on with the other person and they aren’t thinking clearly, or they are reacting without thinking. Other situations are completely out of your control. It’s a waste of energy when you react with such intensity to something you can’t do anything about.
To help you create the habit of responding rather than reacting, consider doing the following:
If we’re truly thinking, we always have a choice on how we respond to something. When we’re not thinking, we react. Next time something happens to create an emotional trigger, remember to stop and make a conscious choice. Respond or react. Which one will you choose?
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