Should You React or Respond?



Maturity is seen in how well we can manage our emotions

A brilliant mind taught me to “to respond to situations and not react to them”. It made no sense time at that moment because I felt ‘response’ and ‘react’ were just synonyms. Weeks later, I came across the note where I jotted down that statement. Then, it began to make sense to me…

Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction force. That means that every act will command an equal and corresponding reply to that action (a reaction). This law is not only prevalent in physics but also in our daily lives. In the course of pondering over this, the famous statement by Jesus about turning the other cheek began to make a different meaning to me. I believe that he meant we should respond to situations instead of reacting to them. Of course when someone slaps you, you would want to slap back! (REACTING). But to turn the other cheek is simply you going out of pattern, doing something so different and unexpected (RESPONDING).

Imagine how many relationships will still be existing if we understood this and lived by it. Responding instead of reacting takes great strength and speaks of our level of maturity. It is natural, so easy and almost effortless to react but responding is you doing the natural opposite and unexpected. Call me a foul name and I will call you back. SIMPLE!!! Hold a grudge against me and I will simply return the favor. SO EASY!!! That’s how natural it is to react.

Imagine this scenario…

A married couple is having a huge fight and in the course of the fight the wife calls the husband “a mistake of a man”. His pride is hurt. He is fuming with anger. Whatever natural response he gives now will convey the depth of his hurt and the magnitude of anger the woman’s words just ignited. He could punch her in fury but that will only end up commanding a reaction from the wife, a response also conveying the depth of her emotions. So you see, the fight continues! He could, however, decide not to listen to the voice of his emotions at that time and use his head instead.

What started this fight? Is it worth it? If I react in my anger now, what will the outcome be like? Will it be worth it? You see in the course of trying to respond instead of react, he is doing something he wouldn’t have done if he did the latter and that is to think. Reacting to situations only fosters malice, hated, pain and grudges. It’s more like a chain reaction that continues unless halted by an inhibitor (someone doing something out of pattern)

I have observed from experience that when we respond to situations, most times we leave the other party stunned, in disbelief and with a greater respect for our person. It is not easy to respond instead of to react, it takes commitment, discipline and constant practice but in the end, it is worth it. So try it for a change…

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