Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Responding Instead of Reacting: You Choose

Today is Tuesday, February 4, 2014.

You can't change how people treat you or what they say about you.  All you can do is change how you react to it.  

In other words, all you can really change is yourself.  Actually, in my opinion, it's better to respond to things rather than react to them.  If you think respond and react mean the same, I'll clue you in to the difference: conscious choice.  When you react to something, it's nearly automatic.  You don't have much of a choice in the matter.  Think in terms of allergic reactions, for example.  You don't decide to react to pollen, your body does it automatically.  You can respond to the presence of pollen in the air in several ways, however, including staying indoors, putting an air filter in your home, taking allergy medications, taking a daily dose of locally produced honey, and so on. These are conscious choices.

There are ways to control or shorten automatic reactions to avoid making situations worse.  For example, there are any number of things that can make you angry, but other than recognizing the feeling of anger and acknowledging it (as opposed to sweeping it under the rug), you don't really have to take any action.  Instead, you can choose to hold back for a moment to review the situation, and in that moment, you can choose a more appropriate response – or you can choose not to respond at all.  You can also choose whether to hold onto the anger or release it.

This is true of every emotion, both positive and negative.  Just because you feel a certain way, that doesn't mean your feelings have to drive your actions.  The more you exercise your ability to consciously choose your responses, the more consciously you live your life, and the more control you have over your life.  :-)

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