When you're interacting with people or experiences in your life, you have two options. You can respond or you can react.
Reacting is driven by instinct. It's emotional and impulsive.
Responding is intentional and deliberate.
More About Reacting
When you react to something, you do it without thinking. Your reaction comes from the primitive, reptilian part of your brain that is all about keeping you alive.
If you're constantly reacting to life, you'll be more stressed. Stress can negatively impact your health. Your relationships may suffer.
Responding = Thinking
When you respond to a situation, you're engaging the thinking part of your brain — the pre-frontal cortex. Using this part of your brain allows you to make deliberate choices about how you act and what you say.
Responding gives you more control over your life. Feeling in control decreases your stress levels and improves your health.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” - Viktor Frankl
Try It Out
Jan's roommate, Sal, constantly left his clean laundry in the dryer. Jan had talked to Sal about this several times, but Sal's behavior didn't change.
Which answer is an example of Jan responding to Sal's laundry being left in the dryer?
Answer 1 : Jan slams the dryer door shut, runs to Sal's room, and yells "Why can't you take your clothes out?!"
Answer 2: Jan sees the clean clothes, takes a deep breath. He walks to Sal's room and asks Sal to get his clothes out of the dryer.
Answer 3: Jan sees the clean clothes, takes them out, and throws them on the floor.
Which is an example of responding?
Building Your Respond Muscles
You can build your ability to respond with practice.
Be Mindful — Consider what is going on around you and inside your body.
Pause — When you're tempted to react, stop and pause. This gives you a chance to think.
Release Tension — Take a breath. Shrug your shoulders. Stretch.
Name Your Feelings — Putting a label on your feelings helps you be more aware of them.
Be Assertive — Ask for what you want or need.
Look at the Big Picture — Keep things in perspective.
Check the Facts — What are the facts of the situation? Does your response fit the facts?
To help you remember to respond instead of react, think about YODA .
You Observe Detach Automaticity
When tempted to react: