I used to be a hothead.
Growing up my temper was on a short fuse and being more introverted, I would hold it in and eventually just erupt. My every move was a reaction to what was going on around me.
And then I turned 3. (Just kidding)
Eventually my introversion turned more introspective. I would watch and observe. I learned to “just get along” and not let things rattle me. I turned to more responding than reacting.
Life seemed to really smooth out for me.
What’s the difference between reacting and responding?
At first glance it may seem that reacting and responding are very similar, but they aren’t.
Reacting is re-acting. It has a lot to do with mirroring a response to something. You are re-acting out a response, in the same manner, someone or something responded to you.
To react you respond in a similar way to someone or something.
Responding is more thought-out.
When you respond you have taken time to think about the response and you answer on your own terms. You get to do you. It’s often not an immediate response unless you’ve intentionally prepared for the conversation or interaction.
Can responding rather than reacting be bad?
Yes! Sometimes you need to react!
I can remember one time I responded instead of reacting and it wasn’t good.
Another lady once accused my wife of something she didn’t do. My initial response was to think, “She may have a point. We should talk this out.” Needless to say, I didn’t win any points that day.
I should have reacted and defended my wife first and then had a discussion about it later. Sometimes living in response mode can get you into trouble. It isn’t all or nothing. Sometimes you need to react.
We’ve been married for almost 40 years so things worked out but it wasn’t my finest moment.
Who’s life do you want to live?
Living in reaction mode puts you under the control of everything around you.
One story that has always stuck with me came from an older gentleman when I was younger. He had bad service from a waiter when he was out with another couple. When it came time to tip, his companions said he shouldn’t leave a tip. The service was awful.
His statement was “I choose to act rather than react.”
You have a choice. Use it wisely.