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Reacting versus Responding

Updated: Oct 22, 2022

What happens when something or someone upsets you? When things don’t go your way? Have you ever paid attention to your responses?

Although both are actions, there is a noticeable difference between reacting and responding. When we react, we do not stop to think. It comes from a more ungrounded state of mind where our emotions rule us. Reacting can get us into trouble. We are more likely to be angry, irritable, and rude, and do not always behave with integrity. We are more likely to take things personally and start fights.

When we respond, however, we are more grounded, calm, and thoughtful. We pause to think before we act or speak, considering consequences and other’s feelings. We can decide ahead of time if what we are about to do is worth it, and make a decision based on that knowledge. In responding, we are less likely to be irritable or say something we regret. We are more likely to be peaceful, and not take things personally. There is a reason that the term is "knee jerk response," not "knee jerk reaction."

When we respond, we show ourselves and others more respect than when we react. Responding is a more mature way to handle conflict and difficulties.

The first step in developing this awareness is to pay attention. What do you do when you get into conflicts, when people speak to you, or things happen to you? Are you reacting or responding to these events?

Life has a way of teaching us so much. Every day we have so many opportunities to be the best version of ourselves. Paying attention to responding versus reacting is a step in the direction towards our maturity. When in doubt, remaining quiet is often wise.

Readers, let me know your thoughts about this.

I believe in you. I am here to help.

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