Every day, every moment, each of us has the opportunity to either “react” or “respond” to a person, place, thing, situation or experience. The manner in which we choose to participate in that moment begins to shape, both internally and externally, the person we are now, and who we will become in the future.
I have spent an inordinate amount of my life not truly knowing the difference between the two. How many times did I let a “knee-jerk” reaction (an action usually taken without thought) bring out my ego, my fear and consequently, my anger? In almost all of those cases, I have said or done something that I truly regretted afterward. The instant that my actions are executed without thought (especially positive thought), is the instant I generally find myself wishing I could just take it all back or rewind the clock. That my friends is the definition (for me) of regret.
Conversely, responding to a situation has, over time, become a much different manner in which to address a person, place, thing, situation or experience right in front of me. In that moment, when I am confronted with negativity coming my way in whatever form it manifests, I can stop, take a breath, and not open my mouth or move a muscle until I have taken full stock of the situation and can develop a healthy response that will not cause me to regret my words or actions upon their execution.
Several often used definitions of the two are:
- React – [ree-akt] to act in opposition, as against some negative force.
- Respond – [ri-spond] to reply generously, to react favorably
I don’t presuppose that there is any one perfect way to handle all things negative that come my way, but I have found that when I can truly be willing to not let my ego or fear have its way with me in any given moment, I tend to find much more peace and serenity in my life vs. the chaos and calamity that is certain when I react rather than respond.
I continue to be grateful for awareness of simple things like this and that awareness continues to provide me a life beyond my wildest dreams. My humble and undying thanks to those who, through their own example, remind me of this each and every day (and you know who you are).