Do you react or respond?

Taught to react

It was almost recess and I was casually finishing my colouring.  My first grade teacher at the time came over, saw that I wasn’t even close to finishing, and said in a matter of fact tone, “If you don’t finishing, you’ll have to stay in for recess.”

Before that statement, I was pretty unconcerned about time lines.  After that statement, I became a rusher.  I started to do everything as fast as possible so I wouldn’t miss out on anything.  I stopped caring about quality and more about quantity.  This held true for a long time in exams, travel, the way I spoke, relationships and whenever developing new skills.  I needed things done as fast as possible.

My direct habit to a task was to rush.  It was (and if I don’t catch it, still is) my knee jerk reaction to any thing directly in front of me.  It was created by the underlying belief that if I didn’t dive right into the job, I’d miss out on many other things.  I’d miss recess.  This was my reaction.

Learning to respond

Rather than react, I wanted to start responding accurately to my particular situation.  A response is a voluntary action where a reaction is an involuntary one.  If I do rush, I want it to be a choice because the circumstances warrant a rush job.  But most times, they don’t.  If I check in with myself before I teach, write, hang out with my wife, cook, read, do yoga, go for a bike ride, and eat dinner, I can choose to enjoy what I’m doing and talk myself through the lack of pressure and the need to rush.  There is no recess to miss.

Your reactions are habits and in order to start breaking habits by responding rather than reacting, the first step is creating a delay between the stimulus and response.

How much nicer would your day be if you spent it in the moment and not rushing from one item to the next?

When I work with clients we look at not only their habit, but what created it and what their underlying belief is about their actions.  Once they are aware of what they truly believe about how they are reacting, they can then choose a different course of action.

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