Reacting v. Responding

51MfVDOlEkL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Once upon a time, in what seemed like a lifetime ago, I overreacted to every little thing that happened to me or someone else. I didn’t have a filter so I made snap judgments. None of it instinctual. None of it fact-based. None of it fair.  I would act on whatever emotion I was feeling in the moment to the chagrin of my husband and very close friends. I thought feelings were facts and that I had a right to tell the world everything that I was feeling. I asked myself why everything was so complicated, why the world hated me and why was nothing going the way I wanted it to go.

Then I had a moment of clarity. I asked for advice and was told from people I respected that I was the problem. Yikes. That’s a scary thing for an egomaniac to hear. Since I wanted to be released from my own crazy and be a functioning member of society, I started to do some work on myself. I decided to make some changes. The first one was learning how to respond rather than react.  For me, responding is taking the pause to allow the feelings to flow through me. I do this in many ways: writing it down, moving a muscle to change the thought, calling a wise friend. When I am done, I am usually relieved of the crazy I was feeling. I think clearer. I handle the situation better than if I was still in all-about-me land. Not that I don’t love that land. I have my own theme song. If I react, nothing good will come out of the situation at hand for me. That’s because I am going off my emotions and become accusatory.

As someone who has also been on the receiving end of a reaction, it kinda sucks. Though I have learned to not take everything personally (thank you The Four Agreements), it’s still hard not to separate what is being said from why it is being said. Thankfully, I have a special circle of people who I can go to guide me past my impulse to react.  It’s never easy. I don’t do it perfect. I just try my best.

 

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