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?

Social Media and Relationships

Disconnect to Reconnect

Social media has become a very prevalent part of society. 98% of all people in the world, or at least the United States of America are on some form of social media. If used correctly, the internet can be a wonderful tool. It can keep us in touch with friends and loved ones. It can keep us in the know on current event and what is trending (what is popular). It can also entertain us. Sites such as Facebook or Twitter, and the internet in general, puts the entire world at our finger tips. The problem comes into place when social media becomes all consuming. It is very difficult to be intimate when your partner is on the phone all the time. How can you possibly get a teenager to complete their homework or have family dinner when everyone is texting? When it comes to relationship, whether romantic or platonic we have to learn to monitor the use of social media. Just like the TV did in its earlier days, social media has just crept into our homes and is ruining our bonds/relationships.
Another con of social media/the internet is the easy access to adult material. Pornography is and has been running marriages forever. The only difference now is it has become a hot button topic thanks to social media. This is a common crossroad with social media. On one hand, the internet can be used as an outlet about the perils of pornography and the effects that it can have on relationships and marriages. On the other hand, though, the internet a can make it just that much more accessible perpetuating the problem. The internet can make the world a much smaller place so things such as cheating or communication that would have been impossible 10 years ago are no longer an adversary. Although cheating has never been a positive it may have been a bit more difficult 10 years ago when the girl on film was as easy to contact or meet as she would be today. We must make a conscious effort to use social media for what is for a that is to connect with people and be careful not to fall into some of the traps that may be presented when using it

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.

Victims of Abuse: Why Don’t They Leave?

Victims of Abuse Why Don't They LeaveThis is not an uncommon question.  It is often asked by those who have not experienced and do not understand the complexity of remaining in a abusive relationship.  The truth of the matter is that many people who are in relationships where no abuse occurs do not immediately leave even when there is trouble in paradise, or they leave and then return, similar to men and women who are in abusive relationships.  The answer as to why they remain in the abusive relationship is as complex and complicated as how they will break free from the relationship.  Leaving the relationship is a process. Professionals who work with victims of abuse know that the most dangerous time is when the victim leaves because the abuser becomes more violent.

Victims of abuse may face several hurdles to leaving the relationship. This list is not exhaustive:

  • Economic Dependence on their abuser/Lack of Work Experience/Lack of financial resources
  • Fear for their safety or the safety of their children and/or other family members.
  • Isolation — no support system.
  • Beliefs about Family — the victim may believe that family should not share family secrets. Guilt about breaking up the family unit.
  • Beliefs about Marriage — the victim may believe that separation or divorce is not permissible.
  • Belief that the abuser will find and kill the victim.
  • Society’s response against victims — legal system, religious systems, family systems, and community.
  • Belief that the abuser will change.
  • Attachment and love for the abuser.
  • Fear of losing custody of their children.
  • Lack of Information about community resources that advocate and support.