When you see something happen. Are you reacting or responding to that event?
You might think that those are two words, have the same meaning. I was thinking the same. Just recently, listening to some speech, I’ve heard the speaker, saying that there is a difference between them. So I look around to find what actually it is. There is a lot on this subject on the internet.
The essence of all of the explanations is pretty simple. Even if both, reaction and respond, can have the same outcome, they differ in a way that reaction is unconscious, respond is conscious.
Simple example. You are driving on the motorway. Someone, drive in front of you, the way, you nearly crash in his car.
Reaction – You straightaway get annoyed, angry. You start to yell at that person. Swearing and cursing him. Even though he most likely not hear you.
Respond – You might get annoyed. But you start to think. You see that that person is in a hurry. Of course, his driving is dangerous. But he might be hurrying home, as something happen there what makes him upset and provoke him to drive this way.
The reaction is immediate. Without thinking and reasoning. Mostly it is based on your beliefs and underlying assumptions. Your subconscious mind has just one goal – your “survival”. It does not care about others.
Respond is slower. You think about the situation. Consider why that happens and using information from both, your subconscious and conscious mind, you decide, how you will behave, thinking about well- being of yourself and those around you.
If you want to stop reacting and start to respond to situations, here is a solution. Whenever happen, stop yourself. Take a deep breath. And one more. And one more. Take a step back and look at this whole scene as an observer. And then choose the best way to act.