Reaction Vs Response
Hello! Remember me? I’m about 4 weeks late*! On the up side, you’ve had plenty of time to work out your Whys and take note of the stories you’re telling yourself! Did you notice any key themes that pop up a lot? Have you noticed how easy or hard it can be to stop yourself, reset and take off again in a more positive frame of mind? Hold on, if you can stop, reset and change your thoughts, that means you can CHOOSE your FRAME OF MIND. (Cue the sound of screeching breaks here!)
One of the biggest (and hardest learnt) mental lessons I’ve ever had is that I can choose my thoughts, my moods and my feelings. This opened up a whole new world for me. A new universe of possibilities. And it’s what I want to share with you. Because once you start choosing your thoughts and feelings you move into a space of being able to respond rather than react. What’s the difference I hear you ask? Let’s ask the dictionary:
1.to reply or answer in words:
2.to make a return by some action as if in answer
3.to react favorably.
4.to correspond (usually followed by to).
5.Bridge. to make a response.
1.to act in response to an agent or influence
2.to act reciprocally upon each other, as two things.
3.to act in a reverse direction or manner, especially so as to return to a prior condition.
4.to act in opposition, as against some force.
5.to respond to a stimulus in a particular manner
Both rely on an initial stimulus, yet a response is generally more considered and is often a favorable action to the stimulus while reactions tend to be less considered and in opposition to the stimulus. One sounds like it will run a little smoother doesn’t it? Never has this been more evident to me than in raising my children. On days when I am not well adjusted, I’m stressed, I’m tired, or I’m just not on my game mentally I can be more reactive to my children when they are having moments of sensitivity or distress. This inevitably ends up in both of us being upset and having big feelings of being overwhelmed and having raised voices and not giving each other the respect we mutually deserve. Conversely, on days when I am well adjusted, I’m rested, and I’m on form mentally I am able to choose my responses and navigate my childrens big feelings with calm and respect which always ends up with any problems resolved in a loving and mutually respectful manner.
How do you switch from reaction to response? With practice it gets easier! If I’m in a negative headspace it can be as simple as telling myself calmly “I’m angry/sad/frustrated because insert reason here and I don’t like feeling this way. I acknowledge the way I’m feeling. I’m allowed to feel angry/sad/frustrated. I am choosing to change my focus and feel happy/grateful/excited from now on.” That simple paragraph holds immense power and gives you immense power. Once you start to choose your feelings and emotions you can change them and change the way you respond or react. And that opens up a whole new realm of mental-emotional possibility.
*My sincere apologies! After posting the last blog Tom and I celebrated getting married and got a little way-laid in the whirlwind of married life and thus I’m late with this last installment of the mental blog series. Thank you for your patience!