Respond Rather Than React
Imagine going to the doctor for medication and returning for a follow-up visit. In one case the doctor says you are reacting to the medication, in the other case the doctor says you are responding to the treatment. There’s a big difference between reacting and responding. It’s a matter of speed. Generally, a reaction to medication happens quickly and responding to a treatment takes some time. In terms of anger management ‘reacting’ is an automatic, impulsive primitive brain activity, while ‘responding’ is an evolved brain function relying on a more complex thought process. Reacting is fast and dirty. Responding is slowing down, suspending action, and being reasonable, rational, and logical. Here are five tips for responding rather than reacting:
- Think Goals: When you thing about how this specific situation fits into your overall goals and objectives it will be easier to respond.
- Put the Situation in Context: Always consider the context – what is happening and how the next step will best serve you and everyone involved.
- Blend Thought and Feelings: The best decisions are both informed by facts and integrated with feelings. The goal isn’t to deny your feelings, but to balance them with thoughts and facts to fill in the blanks. This si the essence of responding.
- Recognize Choices: Often reacting comes when you don’t know or think you have any options. When you realize that you always have choices, you can remember to consider them and the outcomes they bring before moving forward.
- Big Picture View: Your goal in the angry moment is to mentally move yourself into the future and look back with ‘big picture’ view to determine your best response to the current situation.