In life Make Sure You Respond, Don’t React

I once heard that humans should respond, plants react.

For whatever reason, this has stuck with me and has helped at times in relational situations, parenting, and ministry leadership. When I pause to remember that this encounter – as crazy as it may be – can’t make me do something I don’t want to do (or say). If I can keep my mind thinking about a good response rather than my first reaction, things will be better in the long run.

This is one of the four pillars in the book Do Hard Things. The author, Steve Magness, provides a great framework for training your mind for toughness – thinking enough to move to the right response quickly.

You’ve heard the phrase “over-reacted.” But you’ve probably never heard the phrase, “over-responded.”

When we respond, it comes from a different place than reaction. When we react, we allow our emotions to take the lead that is rarely a good place to begin.

Reaction is based on what others are doing or have done.

We have control of our response – it’s part of what makes us human. We can increase the toughness of our minds so that our responses are clear and correct for the moment.

Children need parents to respond and don’t react to situations in their lives. They need that kind of foundation. I always remember in the show Leave It To Beaver, Mom and Dad always send Beaver to this room so they can discuss and determine what needs to be done in the situation. That’s a great example for a response.

Some ways you can build in a tough mindset to respond instead of react:

  • Don’t fire off an email to a major issue from your phone
  • Calmy ask lots of questions of your children then something has gone wrong
  • Work on issues with your spouse during the day, not in the evening
  • Listen calmly and carefully to your superiors and always ask, “When do you need a response to this??

When you keep this principle in mind, you begin to develop the right answers and responses more quickly. For example, I learned long time ago to respond with “Wow!” verses “How?” when presented with ideas. Give them time to possibly grow! There’s no way ideas have all the details worked out and if they have any merit, they will.

I’ve also learned to add the work “now” into coaching my kids. When they are playing music, sports or anything else, I give them a compliment, then say, “Now I want you to try that again using this technique.” We want to replace the word “but” with “now.” It doesn’t negate the compliment and accomplishing, but adds to it and builds on it.

Ane one last example – I learned a long time ago that what kids need is your pleasure in watching them dance, play, lead, and use their gifts. If the only time you give them good feedback is when they win, you may be reacting! But if you can say, “I love watching you play ball” it doesn’t matter what the outcome was. A good response from a parent is to enjoy your child’s endeavors for what they are!

As you practice responding vs reacting, you’ll find, as the author says, you’ll be healthier and happier in life!

Leave a Comment

11 − nine =