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

Flaticon Icon 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

Flaticon Icon 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

Flaticon Icon 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.

Flaticon Icon Be Mindful — Consider what is going on around you and inside your body.

Flaticon Icon Pause — When you're tempted to react, stop and pause. This gives you a chance to think.

Flaticon Icon Release Tension — Take a breath. Shrug your shoulders. Stretch.

Flaticon Icon Name Your Feelings — Putting a label on your feelings helps you be more aware of them.

Flaticon Icon Be Assertive — Ask for what you want or need.

Flaticon Icon Look at the Big Picture — Keep things in perspective.

Flaticon Icon Check the Facts — What are the facts of the situation? Does your response fit the facts?

Take Action

To help you remember to respond instead of react, think about YODA .

Yoda from Star Wars standing and staring intently Photo by D A V I D S O N L U N A on Unsplash

You Observe Detach Automaticity

When tempted to react:


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