Are You a Reactor or a Responder?

Most of my life I’ve been a reactor. Even though I don’t often react outwardly to a situation, I have an inward, visceral reaction to events.

Recently I was presented with a situation which really ruffled the feathers of my ego. I had an immediate internal reaction to push away from the situation, as if approaching it would hurt me, expose me, threaten me.

I “watched” this reaction in myself and chose to pause before continuing to react. I paused for a few minutes and reapproached the situation in my head, looking at it head-on and honestly.

From this pause and observation, I then decided to respond instead of react.

In responding, I chose to respond from a place of love. Meaning I put down my defenses and opened my arms. I welcomed the seemingly threatening energy. I said what I had to say honestly but not harshly. I thanked it for the growing experience it offered me and then I let it go.

Watching myself go through these motions was a little surprising

Mostly because they didn’t seem like things I would do. Really let it go? Really? But there I was, letting it go.

Really honoring someone approaching me in such an off-putting way? Really. Honoring.

What I realized upon reflecting on the circumstances was not that I’ve become a new, different, or better person.

I am the same person I’ve always been.

I just exercised my right to choose.

Instead of default programming to react without reflection, my programming is starting to change. I’ve developed the ability to pause. When I pause, I create the opportunity for choice.

My choices are to continue to react or to choose to respond.

This pausing and choosing is invaluable for all of us. Turning it into second nature is a lifelong practice, but in small moments we can observe ourselves taking the first step.

The first step in the right direction.

One step after another. That’s what you call a path.