Reacting vs. responding – we strive for it every day. Here’s how to create outcomes you can be proud of by choosing to respond.
When we meet a situation that triggers or activates us, we have two choices – and each choice will create a different outcome.
We can either react from a place of emotion, or we can choose how we want to respond from a place of clarity and authenticity.
How you choose will decide the outcome you receive.
How We Create Outcomes
Motivational coach Jack Canfield describes this experience as:
Event + Reaction/Response = Outcome
This simple system has made a big difference in my life. Since I started integrating it into my daily decision-making process, I’ve expanded it into my own version. For me, it feels like this:
- Event + Reaction + Action = Outcome
- Event + Response + Decision + Action = Outcome
So what does this look like in practice? It’s all about thinking through your choices before you emotionally engage – even amidst hardship.
You see, you can have an emotional reaction to a tough situation, but then you have to face the outcome of those actions. When instead, you could take a different approach and end up with an outcome you can feel proud of – even if you’re still enduring a difficult circumstance.
Life is a series of events. Most of us live our lives feeling like these events happen to us. But if there’s one thing I know to be true, it’s that you can choose to happen to your life instead.
And it all starts with one empowered choice.
What’s a Reaction?
A reaction typically feels like giving up emotional control and, effectively, losing your inner power.
Reactions typically come from an emotional, activated frame of mind, and they’re impulsive in nature, often lacking in foresight. They’re usually fraught with anger, blame, shame, disrespect and hurt.
What does a reaction look like? If you’re reacting, you’re likely speaking to win or dominate the conversation, or to cut off communication entirely. Additionally, you’re probably drawing on opinion, perception or assumption – rather than fact.
Even though you’re fighting for a win, oftentimes the outcome of a reaction is a win-lose or lose-lose scenario, where someone ends up getting hurt.
In the end, a reaction is often about you and your pain. That’s why reactions are typically destructive and disempowered.
What’s a Response?
A response typically feels thoughtful, collaborative, problem-solving – even elevated. It holds power while taking ownership. Most importantly, it feels in control and true to your voice.
Responses typically come from that divinely connected inner space that you can access when you stand firm and speak with compassion.
What does a response look like? If you’re responding, you’re holding space for both parties to create a win-win. Together, you’re working toward a resolution, while always holding respect for each other and yourself.
Responses lead to outcomes where people from all beliefs and cultures can find empowerment. They build common ground so that all parties feel heard, validated and supported.
Reactions Vs. Responses
When I learned the difference between reacting and responding, I gained a whole new sense of awareness – and a heightened state of decision-making.
When I put that into practice, it changed everything.
Today, it’s still what I strive for with each relationship and interaction.
When I act from the empowered beliefs I hold in my core, it leads to outcomes where I hold my own emotional space and honor my boundaries – while still honoring and supporting the emotions and boundaries of others.
You see, the difference between a reaction and a response is the mindset and decision to create a win-win outcome.
A Quick Self-Assessment
Sometimes it’s hard to see where you’re reacting most often, as well as where you’re responding well.
That’s because this process requires a little intention and a moment of self-reflection.
Find somewhere quiet to sit, grab something to write with, and take as long as you like to answer this question honestly:
Who would you need to become in order to retain your power inside of your relationships and life circumstances? When you think about this version of you, what becomes possible?
Ready To Dive Deeper?
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