Some people ask, what is the difference between react and respond and I just want to clarify the difference for you and show you how it is always better to respond than react.
As human we are born with animalistic characteristics such as fight or flight. But the one thing that makes us different from other animals is the fact we have been given the use of our higher faculties.
When an animal faces fear or is in a situation they are uncomfortable in they will use the fight or flight mechanism. Most of the time an animal will flight as its natural instinct is to do whatever it can to survive. However, as humans if we use our higher faculties when we are presented with a situation that we are uncomfortable in or fear, then we can sit down, look as the situation, analysis it and then deal with it in an appropriate way.
The sad thing is, most humans do not use their higher faculties. They allow their animal instinct to come out instead. Meaning, they will either attack or run.
When you react (attack) to a situation or person you are ultimately giving away your power. The second you react to someone they are in control; you have given up your power to them. When you respond, you keep control and can deal with it as you have control of the situation.
Every situation you are faced with has a space of time between the situation or what has been said and how you respond to it. This is the time you should be conscience of your higher faculties. During that space of time is when you will make the decision to react or respond.
Does it hurt? Is it even real?
These are questions you should be asking during that space of time we mentioned above. Is the situation I’m in currently in, dangerous or threatening to my life? Let’s be honest, it’s highly unlikely that you will find yourself in a situation that threatens your existence.
Most of the time it’s fear that stops us reaching our goals and full potential. We are faced with situation in our life that cause us fear and to be uncomfortable. When we get this feeling of fear or of being uncomfortable this is when we react, you tend to use statements like; “I can’t do that”, “I’m not good enough” or “I’m scared to do that, what if it goes wrong?” I’m sure you have all used one of those statements at some point in your life.
However, the reason you get that uncomfortable or scared feeling is down to the fact it involves doing something that is new to you or it pushes your comfort zone boundaries. It takes that comfort blanket off you, that is what causes this feeling. There is a saying I use all the time and I truly believe it is true; “Live begins when you step outside of your comfort zone”
Be honest with yourself, when you are faced with a situation – stop and think, is my fear real? If I face my fear and do what is scaring me, will I be in danger? Am I feeling scared of something in the future that hasn’t even happened? (which means you’re scared of something that, doesn’t even exist).
By choosing not to take that leap of faith, or that step outside your boundary – you are letting fear control your life. Don’t let fear have control, take back your control and venture into the unknown as this is the only way as human we grow and develop.
So, what is the difference between them…
The differences: React or Respond
No matter what, in life you are going to have situations and people that are going to cause you anxiety, fear and to feeling of being uncomfortable. But it is as these moments we can either choose to react, which is most people’s instinct – or we can respond, with faith and hope.
Whatever the situation maybe, we always have the choice. We may only have a couple of seconds to make that choice, but we always have a choice. We can either react, which gives our power away and creates a state of complete fear and frustration or, we can respond and be in a state of complete control and have faith and hope that everything is okay and is only going to improve.
In order for you to start responding rather than reacting – start by paying attention to the small things in everyday life that make you feel uncomfortable or afraid. Make a note of them if you wish, but then observe how you act when you are confronted with these small things.
So, when you react to a situation or person it is your emotional or subconscious mind that is in control. Meaning you have lost power and now the situation is in control of you. However, due to past experiences and choices, these have programmed your subconscious mind. With your emotional reactions mixed with this, it often doesn’t help you achieve the best result.
When you respond to a situation, you are no longer using your emotional or subconscious mind. You are using your conscious mind, a fully engaged brain and high awareness. You now have control; your conscious mind has taken over the emotions and programming of your subconscious. You can make constructive and conscious decision, more calmly that will ultimately get you to where you want to go with this situation.
Facing your fears:
The best way to learn how to respond instead of reacting is by facing your fears. I’m going to give you a couple of things to start doing today that not only will help you with responding but will also help you move forward to achieving success in your life. So here they are:
1) Write down a list of your goals – your real goals, ask yourself; what do I REALLY want? If I could have absolutely anything in the world what would it be? Doesn’t matter how big or silly or unrealistic it may sounds write it down if it is what you desire, if you get excited thinking about it etc.
2) Now, look at your goal and write down what ever it is that is stopping you from achieving that goal. What is giving you the feeling of fear about getting up and making that goal happen right now! What is stopping you? What makes you feel uncomfortable?
3) Face your fear – do the thing that is scaring you or making you feel uncomfortable.
While you are doing these steps, if you get the feeling of anxiety, fear or feel uncomfortable just stop and pause for a moment. Acknowledge the feeling, do not act immediately. If you do this and practice pausing, not acting you will stay in control of the situation rather than allowing your emotions control the situation.
Some people would tell you to suppress the feelings but this doesn’t make they go away – instead, let the felling rise and build and then close your eyes for a moment and take a couple of really deep breaths (in through the nose and out through the mouth) this will help relax you and easy the feeling.
If you get the feeling that you want to run, retreat or strike out, let the feeling rise inside (not outside) of you. Take a mental note of the feeling and take a couple of moments to process it. Sometimes, when our emotional mind wants to act it is difficult to get the feeling off our mind. So, find something that helps you get the feeling out without acting or reacting to the situation.
A client of mine found that writing these feelings down on paper allows him to express the fear but stop him from acting on it. Then he burns the paper, as a mental image of his fears disappearing. This might work for you, it might not. Find something that works for you.
Once you have done this, get your mindset back into a positive state of thinking and go back to your goals or the situation and respond to it and you will find that you are more calm and you will see things more clearly and come up with the answers you first thought you didn’t have.
The more you practice this the easier it will get, but it is important to realise when you are getting though feeling to stop and pause for a moment before you respond. That is the key to this excise.
Fear or Faith?
When I first hear this, it truly was a real eye opener for me. It made perfect sense but yet so many people never think of fear in this way.
Fear is a lack of understanding and ignorance to a situation. If we had the knowledge, we would fear it. Like if someone asked you to do thing you know you are very good at and know a lot about would you fear the task? No, but if they asked you to do something you have absolutely no idea how to do would you start feeling anxious, nervous, scared? Absolutely!
What is the opposite to fear?
FAITH! Faith is the opposite to fear.
The funny thing is (which was the eye opener for me) that faith is something you have to believe in, you can’t see it, it’s invisible… But guess what… So is fear, it is invisible, you can’t see it and you have to believe it to feel it.
So why chose to believe in something that you can’t see, that is invisible and that gives you a feeling that scares you, that makes you anxious, that stops you being successful?
Would it not be better to believe in faith? Something that is invisible, something you can’t see, yet something that gives you motivation and a positive look on things?
Clarence Smithson defined this as:
“Faith is the ability to see the invisible and believe in the incredible, and that is what enables believes to receive what the masses think is impossible.”
Fear is seeing the invisible and believing something bad will happen.
So, what are you going to choose to believe?
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second-best time to plant a tree in NOW!”
Practice makes Perfect:
You can start practising to respond rather than react right now, start with the small things that happen in every day life, see them as an opportunity to practice.
Remember, when you feel fear or uncomfortable stop, think about the situation clearly and then respond by taking the actions that produce the results you want.
By doing this and practising every day you are making respond a habit, which in turn will flick the switch from fear and frustration to a sense of calm, hope and faith.
Scott Cowan - CEO & Founder of Snapshot Coaching