This post is by Bernice Wood of Living the Balanced Life.
When you come up against negative things in life, what do you do? Most of us react. We do the first thing that comes to mind. It’s probably not the right thing. We may also feel rising negative emotions that can get the best of us.
On the other hand, if we are a little more secure, with a degree of emotional intelligence, we will probably respond instead of react.
“What’s the difference?” you may ask.
According to Dictionary.com:
- to react: to act in an opposing or contrary manner
- to respond: to react favorably
Let’s look at a common way these words—respond and react—are used.
When you take an antibiotic for an illness, you are hoping for your body to respond to the medicine: to act accordingly, to have a positive effect on your body, to create change for the good.
If, however, your body reacts, or has a reaction (sometimes known as an allergic reaction) to the medicine, it is rebelling against it. It doesn’t want it, it is rejecting it, and acting harshly because of it.
Now, obviously, we can’t control whether our bodies respond or react to medication. We would all hope for response rather than reaction.
However, we can have control over whether we respond or react to the negative things that come our way.
5 Ways to respond instead of react
- Take a deep breath and tell yourself this is not a personal attack.
- Realize that what has happened has already happened, and you cannot change that fact. All you can do is move forward from this point.
- Decide what your next steps or words will be in this situation.
- See if there is anything you need to do differently to avoid this in the future, or is there something you need to learn from this experience?
- Release the occurrence to God, the universe, or whomever you need to, and move on.
Understanding this process has been very helpful to me as I work to overcome a mental meltdown last year and lingering anxiety. One short sentence has helped me very much:
Whatever is, is.
What helps you to respond, rather than react?
Bernice Wood is Mom to 4 young adults and Nana to 7 grandchildren. She began blogging to journal her personal struggles and life changes, and she recently launched Living the Balanced Life to help others avoid the pitfalls of stress and burnout and learn to live a more healthy life.