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Updated: Oct 5, 2023

React vs Respond - Transformational Distinctions

Reacting refers to emotional and physiological behaviors triggered by the meaning we assign to interpretations of events. These reactions come from us attaching emotional significance, often rooted in past experiences, to the current event. As a result, the new event loses its neutrality and becomes charged. This is a protective mechanism to avoid the pain or discomfort associated with the original event or experience. Reactions are driven by our beliefs and manifest as unconscious habits and behavioral patterns that tend to become automatic. Over time, these reactions can become deeply ingrained and form what is known as a racket.

Distinct from reacting, responding comes from responsibility and conscious choice. When we respond, we consciously choose how we engage with external events. We take ownership of our inner world and actively shape our experiences by consciously controlling our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Responding involves being accountable for the past and recognizing ourselves as the creators or co-creators of our lives.

When we recognize our rackets and the automatic reactions that underpin them, we can begin to take control of our behavior and choose more empowering responses to the events in our lives. Through this self-awareness and intentional choice, we can break free from automatic reactions and create an unprecedented future aligned with our vision.

Reacting is automatic drama. Responding is intentional comedy.

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