From Reacting to Responding

from reacting to responding

 

Being able to move from reacting to responding can be a challenging feat. Honestly, both seem pretty comparable because we often use the words interchangeably; but when using in practice, they are quite different.

Reacting is usually an impulsive, emotional action.  For example, your husband cheats on you. You are angry and hurt. You (react) retaliate by having an affair of your own. You are out on a date with the Mrs. Someone approaches her and is flirting. You are angry and feel disrespected. You (react) punch the dude in the face.

Responding involves simmering your emotional action with logical, critical thinking. Your husband cheats on you. You are angry and hurt. You (respond) take some time to yourself to figure out and explore what you need for resolution. Then you communicate this to your husband. You are out on a date with the Mrs.  Someone approaches her and is flirting. You are angry; you feel disrespected. You (respond) by letting him know she is with you.

Moving from reacting to responding is much easier said than done. But we are all accountable for what comes out of our mouth and how we treat others. The more you practice responding in little every day stressors, you are training your brain to be able to respond instead of react to greater stressors.

Some things that have been helpful to me:

1) Be aware of my body and thoughts.

Are your palms sweaty?  Are your teeth clenching?  Do you have balled up fists?  Are your thoughts racing? Or you can’t think at all? These are all precursors that whatever comes next is probably a reaction and not a response. Resist doing anything when you notice these signs. Take deep breaths.

2) Take a “time-out”

Walking away or ending a conversation is not weak or giving up control.  In fact, reacting often leads to being out of control and living with regrets. Taking a time-out allows for you to explore options and decide what is going to be best. Then you can respond accordingly.

3) Ask yourself, “what do I want the end goal to be?”

After reacting, we often reflect , have regrets and say “hindsight is 20/20.”  In the moment, if we take time to transport to the future, we can determine the best response.

 

What else may be helpful?

Compromise

20 Minute Challenge
Comprise is an important part of life. By definition, to compromise is an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions or to accept standards that are lower than is desirable. No successful relationship can have either party giving less than 50%. My grandmother used to say “make sure in every relationship that you are in that ach party gives 100% that way you know they are not b-sing you because you are not b-sing them”. I have found this gem of wisdom to be so true. No relationship can thrive without compromise at some point. What I have noticed though is that compromise has become synonymous with conceding. Compromise is no longer a labor of love but a sign of disrespect. No one wants to compromise for fear of being played.

The truth is that love is an exercise of faith that we sometimes get played in. To fully love and or trust someone takes an act of selflessness and full disclosure. One cannot fully love someone without ever catering to their needs. Likewise, one cannot fully cater to someone else’s needs without compromising their own at some point. As I watch TV, Lifetime and Hallmark Channel mostly, and the main issue that couples have are communication and lack of compromise. When someone’s needs are not being met they are going to be unhappy and sometimes unhappy people do not so appropriate things to pacify themselves and obtain the missing happiness (i.e. cheating). Compromise is an essential tool in maintaining a healthy relationship. One must be careful not to lose him or herself in the art of compromise. It is very easy to lose oneself in pleasing others. In order for the compromise to be effective it has to be a sacrifice and not a chore.

Relationships

Maslow's Hierarchy of Need: Love and Belonging

Relationships are hard work. Whether the relationship is platonic or romantic the work is equally as hard. An actual committed positive and healthy relationship takes a great deal of dedication and commitment. People often get fooled by the puppy love stage and the honeymoon stage but relationships. Not to mention marriages, are no walks in the park. I was reminded of this this weekend. With Valentine’s Day on the approach my Facebook was almost like a soap opera. I say the usually love in the air post with people celebrating however many amount of years together but I also saw the biter I would like everyone to be miserable posts as well. When people break up I always want to know why. The why fascinates me. What makes a person after so many months are years say’ I cannot do this any longer’. I knew infidelity is a main issue but is it really the main issue. Most people do not cheat just to be cheating there is a reason. Whether the reason is insecurities, lack of communication, the spouse was unfaithful first, or childhood issues, most people cheat for a reason. So does knowing that a person has a valid mental reason for being insecure doe that justify the infidelity. Does knowing that the lack of faithfulness a cause and not an effect make it easier to understand. I would personally say no. I am a strong believer in free will. People do things because they want to. Even with the underlying issues a person has a choice not to succumb to them. The fact still remains though that relationships are tough. We should not throw relationships away because of mishaps. We should stick them out if possible. Wedding vows of for better or for worse should be taken more seriously. My grandmother use to say ‘Baby if the relationship is easy it just might not be worth it’. Back then I had no idea as to what she meant but as time passed on knowledge and life made this revelation very apparent. So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day know that your relationship is worth it and work on it all costs.

Breaking Up

Breaking Up

 

Nobody wants to initiate the emotional and awkward conversation of breaking up with your partner. You realize you no longer want to be with your partner, but you also realize that you don’t want the honor of breaking up with them either.  You run through several ways to tell them, without hurting them  – “It’s not you, it’s me” or “Let’s just be friends.”

I recently read an article about the lack of accountability that adult couples are displaying when breaking up with one another.  The article discussed the spectrum of passively breaking up to actively breaking up.

  1. Ghosting – abruptly ending all communication: no initiating or responding to text or phone calls. The person will ghost their partner because they cannot face the pain that breaking up will cause. However, the recipient of this will actually experience more emotional chaos, doubt, and resentment in response to the ghosting behavior.
  2. Icing – counterfeit reason for putting the relationship “on ice” — “It’s not you, It’s me” or “I’m so busy but when my schedule clears up, I can’t wait to hang out.” This mate no longer wants to be in a committed relationship but also wants to keep the door cracked in the event they change their mind in the future. The recipient often feels resentment.
  3. Simmering – decreasing communication and face-to-face contact: They enjoy the companionship and security of the relationship, but something isn’t quite working for them. The recipient will have a sense that something is not right, but there is not enough reason to confront their partner.
  4. Power Parting – breaking up definitively; no statements such as “let’s be friends” or “if I were in a different place in my life….” that will perpetuate wishful thinking. This partner will give their recipient clarity and closure with no ambiguous statements or hopes for reuniting in the future.

Do you know of other ways which people break up with someone in a way that is less than accountable?

The honest truth is that breaking up is going to be a painful experience,  but being honest and doing it in person is a must – no text, e-mail, or phone call. That is what emotionally mature adults do.

Stop Trying to Change Your Man

Stop Trying to Change Your Man

I was listening to a video devotional about Decoding the Silent Man’s Language.  At the end of the devotional, the speaker said, “The only time a woman can change a man is when he is wearing diapers”.  This comment tickled me but there is some truth to it!  Of course, I’m not saying that your man or my man or whoever’s man may not need to make some changes, but I do agree we (women) are not going to make him change.  Now there is a difference between a man who needs to tweak some things and a man who you just have no business being with in the first place.  Leave that man alone!  But if you have a good man who may only have some rough edges, I am encouraging myself, my friends, my family, and you to stop complaining and nagging your man to make changes.  Put a pause on discouraging him (taking courage out of your man) and increase your words of encouragement (putting courage in).  So Ladies, let’s stop trying to change our man. Let God, his mentor, prayer, accountability partner, time, and emotional and spiritual growth develop so that the changes he needs to make become clear to him, and he earnestly seeks to make those changes for you and him.

Self-esteem: The Conductor of Emotions

Who's Taking Care of You?

Self-esteem is a very important aspect of everyone’s life. It is such a vital part of a person existence, yet at the same time too much or too little of it can be detrimental. Self-esteem is often used as a controlling tool. People prey on those who have low self-esteem because it is easy. Having low self-esteem, especially for children, also makes a person an easy target for bullying. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I thought to myself this is a perfect time to talk about self-esteem. People who fall victim to domestic violence, as well as those that inflict domestic violence, offer suffer from low self-esteem. When a person has low self-esteem it is easy to convince them that the treatment they are receiving is their own fault. At the same token, as the old saying goes ‘hurt people hurt people’. With that being said people who do not feel good about themselves sometimes lash out at others in the form of release. It is never ok to hit someone, domestically or not. As humans we all have emotions and sometimes these emotions outweigh the logic of our brains. It is very easy when feeing cornered or hurt to lash out. We, especially in the African-American community support violence. I know when I was growing up I was always taught if someone hits you….hit them back. I was also taught you never let the other person get the first lick in in a fight. This way of thinking, though it did give me a thick skin, did two things to my way of life. One it limited my thinking. There was no need to think about things. When I felt corned just strike first. Two it perpetuated the use of violence. This is why people need the tools and resources such as counselors or anger management, or sometimes even grief support to help them through life. With these tools in place the instances of violence just might become less.