Reacting Vs. Responding

I often struggle with responding instead of reacting. Responding, in my own definition, is a thought-out, unemotional reply, whereas reacting is a knee-jerk, fear-and-ego-filled reply. Responding shows strength, control, and confidence, while reacting shows weakness and insecurity. Responding often doesn’t happen right away, allowing a break to gather and sort thoughts before formulating a reply. Reacting happens almost immediately, ensuring the first thing said also happens to be the first thing thought, without a chance for censoring or wisdom to influence the reply.

My body feels very different when I react vs. when I respond. When I react, my heart is usually hammering, I feel short of breath, I’m usually raising my voice, and I don’t feel good. When I respond, my heartbeat and pulse are normal, my tone of voice is centered, and I feel good.

I am proud of myself when I respond vs. when I react, especially in an emotionally-charged situation. On the other hand, when I react, I am usually disappointed in myself for letting the situation get the better of me. Do you find yourself more often responding or reacting? How do you feel when you do the one as opposed to the other? What have you learned from responding and from reacting?

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