Have you ever lost it? Have you ever let loose with a barrage of words without thinking about what spilled out of your mouth? I think it’s happened to most of us at some time in our lives. So the next question is: How did you feel afterwards? Sorry? Embarrassed? Defensive? Could you have said it a whole lot better had you taken a moment to think about it first?
I bet your answer is yes, yes and yes! We all let loose sometimes, but when we do, we should ask ourselves this question: Who’s the boss here? When we’re in reaction mode we’re definitely not the boss. Reactive behaviour is based in emotions and shuts off our thinking processes. It controls us. When we choose to respond however, that’s a whole different ballgame ~ we are choosing a considered thought. It is the result of purposeful reasoning.
Reactive behaviour is really just a bad habit, and some, unfortunately, are stuck there. We’ve all come across reactive people ~ those who want to punch someone’s lights out or rant and scream. Road rage is a typical example, albeit extreme. But the difference between reacting and responding can also manifest in more subtle ways in our everyday lives ~ around the emotions we experience resulting from simple frustrations and annoyances. It’s important to feel and acknowledge how we feel, but it’s also important to take a moment to ‘consider’ how to handle them. We all live and learn, and having a reactive moment is part of learning ~ it’s an opportunity to train ourselves to respond.
If you’re having trouble with any kind of reactive behaviour, ask yourself: What emotion is getting in the way of responding? If you listen, you will hear the answer. So be honest with yourself. If you find yourself falling into reactive behaviour, work on it. Yes it takes training to change it, yes it takes being mindful and yes it takes time, but it is so worth it.
When you know how to slow down, de-stress, assess and respond you will become the master of your world. It’s very empowering when you make the choice to consider your words and actions. Responding works for you, reacting works against you. Don’t let reactive behaviour rule you. When you choose to respond you will find life will be more collaborative, more productive and far more pleasant.
Inara Hawley © 2013