Do You React or Respond? Erin Adams, LPC, MAMFT, NCC
The dictionary defines reaction as behaving with hostility, opposition or contrary course of action. Interestingly, the definition of response is replying or answering in words or action. The differences are subtle but important. How many times have you caught yourself reacting to your spouse, kids or co-workers rather than responding? Have you reacted with words like: “What kind of grades are theses? Why can’t you pull it together?” or “Yeah. Well. Life isn’t fair” or “I’m done”? Instead of responding with comments such as: “You seem to be struggling with your studies. Let’s see if we can figure something out” or “I know the situation isn’t what you would like. Do you want to talk about it?” or “I’m frustrated right now. I’m gonna take a time out”. Choosing to respond rather than react is tough. It requires self-control over our thoughts and our tongues. But the reduction in tears and tension, broken hearts and broken relationships is worth the effort of learning how to build that self-discipline.
Here are a few quick tips to help you respond.
- Deep breaths really do help reduce tension. Take time to breathe deeply and collect your thoughts BEFORE speaking.
- Take a personal time out. This can give you time to really think about what you want or need and how to deliver that with care and compassion.
- Walk a mile in their How might your child, spouse or co-worker be feeling in this circumstance? Examining other perspectives often changes our own.
If you find you are still struggling with angry responses and would like to talk it through, give us a call.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call 1-800-273-8255