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Reacting versus Responding



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 responding and reacting. When we react, we do not stop to think. Reaction is a more ungrounded state of mind where our emotions rule us. This 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, more thoughtful. We pause to think before we act, 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 calm and peaceful, and not take things personally. There is a reason that the term is "knee jerk reaction," not "knee jerk response."


Responding shows ourselves and others more respect than reacting. 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, or 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 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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