REACT VS. RESPOND

Studying stress management, I have found that there’s a big thing that’s happening in our society–many of us have become reactive, instead of choosing to respond. What I mean by that is that we’re in a very stimulus/response type of environment.

My oldest daughter, she’s 17, and love her to the death. In the morning, she leaves early for school, and I say, “Grace, have a great day.” She goes, “It depends on my English teacher, it depends on da-da-da-da-da.” I go, “Time out. It doesn’t depend on the external to make your internal world have a great day.” Yeah, we all do this. We may not be looking forward to a certain thing in work, or at school, or fill in the blank. We’ve already preconditioned ourselves that I’ll let other people control how I’m going to feel and think.

Unfortunately, that is occurring more and more, like I say, with cell phones, and everything else, is everything’s going so fast paced that at the end of the day, we ask, “Did I have a good day or a bad day?” and we put all the stimulus together and go, “Well, I had this, this, this, this, this, this happen, thus bad day.” Got to be careful of that, because the external environment is not going to change much, but your response to it certainly can.

Working with clients in high stressed situations, we talk about can we respond and actually choose to respond in certain situations. Think about it, 80%, 90% of what we have going today is probably going to show up tomorrow, same kind of obstacles, adversity. Yet, we associate these things, and we already have a stress reaction to them.

What I’m asking is, can we actually think ahead and choose to respond how we want to. Again, that’s a little bit of a challenge. That requires a couple things. First off, is be clear on what you want to happen, and that’s having a clear intention. Today, I wake up, what was my intention today. Maybe it is in that sales meeting. What is the intention?

We have our phone, we have a text, we have a message, and we immediately react to it. Then guess what? That now can create an emotional reaction in our body. You could be in a good mood, get a text, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that’s happening.” When we’re reactive, we are constantly in a stressful environment internally. We’re allowing the environment to now dictate our emotional state.

When we get clearer on that, we start to understand how we are going to show up, and what our behaviors are going to be. We can start thinking about, “How am I going to do that? Oh yeah, I’m going to be like this, I’m going to be composed.” And you start to actually understand how you want to behave in advance, instead of, “I’ll just wait and see.” No, no, no, no, no, because now you’re literally going to be stressed out, because your environment is going to continuously give you these signals that you’re not ready for.

In the moment, we can certainly talk about if the environment is not favorable, again, how are you going to respond. That’s with stress management techniques, everything from breathing, to self-talk, to asking good questions, to saying, “What’s in my control in the first place?” Instead of focusing on what’s out of my control. When we place our attention on what’s out of our control, we’re certainly going to stay in an anxious, stressed state.

As you look at the next day, is how do you want to respond, not react, respond. When you start to choose that, you’re going to start seeing that things show up a little bit differently in your lives. But unfortunately, we are going to look at the environment and react, and then say, “I had a good day or a bad day, because the environment told me.”

It’s time to take back control of that. Take back control of your behaviors, how you feel. A lot of that is now to choose to respond with intention, with your own behaviors, and be able to go through some of those situations that have been tough on you, and reframe them, and looking at them in a different way.

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