Reacting Versus Responding

Reacting Versus Responding

Do you react or respond? It might seem like splitting hairs, but there is a huge difference between reacting and responding.

Learn the difference and why it matters so much. Changing the tendency to react will result in an easier and more successful life.

Reacting is a spontaneous reaction that is driven by emotion. A response is a more thoughtful, logical, intelligent response. In a nutshell, that is the big difference.

Respond not react.

What about you? Do you think that you mostly react or respond? Let’s find out.

Consider these differences:

1. A reaction lacks thought. It comes from the unconscious. Reactions are instinctive and lack analysis. Your brain is capable of making good decisions if it actually gives the situation some thought and consideration. It’s bringing the unconscious that just reacts to the conscious part of you. Be more mindful and aware of those moments you are triggered to react to. 

 Your greatest advantage over other creatures in the world is the ability to think and be calm, so use it to your advantage!

A reaction seeks to soothe discomfort coming from the unconscious without involving the intellect which is the conscious part of you.

2. A reaction is quick. Reactions are often quick, bordering on instantaneous. Quick decisions are rarely as effective as those that were made patiently and carefully. As a general rule, the less time you spend on something, the worse you’ll do it. 

3. A reaction is aggressive. Reactions are highly triggered by uncomfortable situations. For example, you might make a harsh comment to someone that hurt your feelings. The intention of many reactions is to get back at someone. 

Yes, the bottom line intention is never really to get back at someone, then you must explore the reason you react. And allow those triggers to be your most important times to be calm. 

A response lacks aggressiveness. A response targets the best outcome. It doesn’t focus on retribution or use anger as a tool. It’s calm, cool, collected, and intelligent. Aggressiveness often lacks logic and intelligence, it’s filled with emotions, unconscious emotional traumas. Aggressiveness is an unconscious part within us wanting to be healed loved. 

4. A reaction is also defensive. You might have an argument with your boss and suddenly decide to quit your job. A reaction like this is to relieve anxiety. Defensive reactions are almost always a huge mistake in the long term.

Within that defensive reaction comes healing. If one recognizes this within themself, you know what they say, I’m not really sure if they say this, but, as a joke, the first step to recovery is being aware of oneself. 

A response is constructive and seeks a solution. Responses are solution-oriented and seek to improve the situation. Reactions don’t have the same purpose. 

5. A reaction often creates additional difficulties. Reactions often create additional challenges. When the long term is sacrificed for the short term, there will be pain coming your way. It is a slippery slope. 

Quitting your job can result in financial challenges. Yelling at your spouse creates relationship troubles. Punching a jerk in the face can land you in prison. Your good intention gets fogged up with heightened intense reaction. You don’t really get to explain yourself. Nothing gets fixed. And like I said it is a slippery slope. 

6. A response is conscious, thoughtful, and intelligent. A response is a wise, productive response to a situation.

A response uses your wisdom and considers the ultimate outcome from that course of action. It’s being very conscious and present at the moment. 

7. A response takes as much time as necessary. A response isn’t rushed. You consciously decide to take the time necessary to make a smart decision. Why rush if you don’t have to? The more thought you give the situation, the more likely you are to respond effectively.

TIP: When you get triggered and you feel an urge to tell someone off, take a deep breath. That is an indication you need to be present in your now. Just remain calm and allow that energy to flow through you. Take a deep breath. And always remember, not everybody is worth your reaction nor response. That energy and time is golden, use it very sparingly. 

So, do you react or respond in life? Can you see how responding is the better option in most situations? Consider the biggest mistakes you’ve made in your life. Did a reaction, instead of a response, lead to making that mistake?

As you practice responding vs reacting, be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to retract as soon as you come to your awareness, apologize for the behavior, and come back calmer and collected. As you continue to make use of those annoying moments, you will soon recognize how well you’ve done mastering that within yourself. 

Responding uses the best parts of you to make a decision. Reacting relies on your lower faculties. Responding relies on your higher faculties. Avoid reacting in your life. Play it cool and respond calmly. 

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