Don’t React, Respond

My life before was one full of reactions. I reacted to everything around me and I reacted in record time. It’s like I thought I was going to get bonus points for reacting the fastest. As a result, many times, people got hurt or my rapid fast reaction was one from misunderstanding or my own warped sense of perspective. It never occurred to me to pause and actually take in what was being said or done, or, ask questions if I thought I may be misunderstanding, it was all about reacting as soon as possible.

I was taught early on, when I began walking this path, that I wasn’t going to get any bonus points for reacting the fastest, in fact, all I was ever going to get was hurt feelings, mine or the other person’s, for making a quick judgment instead of thinking things through. I was encouraged to practice pausing, to taking a moment, or maybe 10, to ensure I wasn’t just reacting to what I think I heard, or assumed I knew without investigating further. This was truly something I had to practice. As I set out to try this new method I realized how much of a hair triggered tongue I really had, it’s like I had an itch and the moment someone was saying or doing something I was already figuring out how I was going to react before they had even completed what they were doing, and then, many times, I would replay my reaction in my head and critiqued how I could have made it better or faster. Never once did I take into considered how the other person may feel to have that kind of energy I hurled at them, many times, I was completely out of line.

We’ve heard the saying, that we can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we react to it, and walking this path I have seen incredible examples of people responding to horrible shocking things with dignity and grace. I too have at times, have responded in a way that in the past would have only exacerbated things, but have responded in a way that smoothed things over and even brought some new understanding, a miracle in itself. But we are capable of such things, all of us, if we put some thought into what comes out of your mouth before we open it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not a saint, there are times that fast tongue of mine does get away from me and the words just start flying out, but it’s rare now, and I know that if that does happen and I am in the wrong that I can apologize for it and make a pledge to amend that behavior for next time, because now that I have been living this better way of life, those quick reactions don’t just hurt the other person, they also hurt me, and then I have to deal with the consequences of that.

There will always be those situations or people who get under our skin or irk us, but it’s important to take a moment and respond in the appropriate way, not just react. Not only will those around us thank us, but we’ll thank ourselves for conducting ourselves with dignity and respect, even if those around us aren’t capable of doing the same. SLAY on!

SLAY OF THE DAY: Do you tend to react to things or respond? What’s an example of a time you reacted when you should have responded? What was the result? What’s an example of a time you responded when it would have been easier to have reacted? What was the result? Have you always taken a pause before responding or this new or learned behavior? How or what prompted you to make that change? How has this benefited you? How has it benefited those around you? How do you feel the effects of that change personally? When we are able to think before we act we are better able to honor ourselves in our response, and many times, not only make a difficult situation, but always not make a situation worse, sometimes even changing the outcome completely by our favorable response. It is not about what is said and done to us, it’s about being the example of how to interact in a way that shows respect, to others, but most of all, to ourselves.

S – self L – love A – appreciate Y – you

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