Reaction vs. Response

Strange…..but True! Yes, Reaction and Response sound very similar but they are very diverse in their implications. But let me tell you one story about it.

I went to the restaurant and was waiting for my friends and observed one incident. Suddenly, a cockroach flew from somewhere and sat on her. I wondered if this was the cockroach’s response to all the glory that was spoken about it! She started screaming out of fear. With panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started doing jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach. Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group got cranky to what was happening. The lady finally managed to push the cockroach to another lady in the group. Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama. The waiter rushed forward to their rescue. In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter. The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behaviour of the cockroach on his shirt. When he was confident enough,

He grabbed and threw it out with his fingers.

Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behaviour? If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed? He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos. It is not the cockroach, but the inability of the ladies to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach that disturbed the ladies.

React vs Responds

I realised even in my case then, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss that disturbs me, but it’s my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me.

It’s not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.

React in action

More than the problem, it’s my reaction to the problem that hurts me.

As someone who could be characterized as reactive I’ve become intimately acquainted with these two modes of being in the world and can honestly say that one is far more peaceful than the other, and learning how to cultivating responding to life over reacting to life has many benefits.

Depending on our personality style, some of us react more quickly and frequently than others, but everyone finds themselves in the midst of a reaction from time to time. The more stressed we are, the more likely a reaction will seep out un-monitored.

Respond in action

Lessons learnt from the story:

  • I understood I should not react in life. I should always respond.
  • The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.
  • The reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always intellectual…
  • The lesson from the observation. Keep observing and keep learning from it.
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