This is the sixth article in the empowerment series- Respond not React. In 8 Things to Judge if you are Empowered , I wrote that “empowered individuals considered their approach to situations they faced in a calm and collected manner”
Responding and not reacting is not a new topic. It is only lately that I have thought about it more deeply. Reading Stoic Philosophy helped this thought process.
React and respond have similar definition. The one I like for react is interact and undergo a physical or chemical change. This is the knee jerk reaction which does not engage our rational mind. This may result in actions or words that we later regret very much. I don’t know about you, but I have got into heaps of trouble because of a mouth that loves retorts. I am trying to control this part of my anatomy and happy to note that I am gaining some success.
I have not yet found a definition that I like for respond. For the purposes of this article, we can take it as thinking, saying or doing something in reply to something or someone.
There are three types of responses that we can make.
- Responding with productive thoughts
- Responding with constructive words
- Responding with constructive actions
Let’s look at some situations to reflect on how you respond or react. This way you will get to know yourself better. Once you are aware of your repetitive patterns, you will be able to take corrective action if these patterns bother you.
Life has its ups and downs. It is rare for anyone not to have unfairness in their lives. Think about a time when you were treated unfairly.
What did you say and do?
What was the outcome?
What would you do differently?
Received constructive criticism
We have all received constructive criticism at different times in our lives. Think about the last couple of time you have received constructive feedback.
What went through your mind as you heard this feedback?
What did you do or say at the time?
How did you incorporate that feedback into your life?
What could you do differently?
Expected to fulfill other’s expectations
We are not islands. We live with families, in communities and work with many. We are subject to expectations from all of these folk. Some we feel have a duty to ( family), some we are paid to fulfill expectations ( employer) and others we like to impress ( friends and community)
Think of all the expectations that fall on you from these different groups of people.
How have you dealt with these expectations?
How satisfied are you with what you did?
Is there anything you would do differently?
Compared yourself to others
Some of us do this more than others. In most cases, this can result in some interesting emotions. A sense of superiority, inferiority or jealousy are some of the emotions that come to mind.
Even the most controlled of us, have these thoughts cross our minds from time to time. Think about a time when you have done this.
What went through your mind?
How did you feel?
What did you do as a result?
Is there anything you would do differently next time?
Now that we have got your introspective juices flowing, let’s get you writing down some ground rules for yourself. This will help you consider what approach to take that would be beneficial to yourself.
Some Tips to help you respond in a considered manner
- Focus your thoughts on what is in your control and what you can do next.
- Each time a negative or unproductive thought come into your head, try replacing it with a productive thought
- Take a few moments to think and calm yourself before you respond. This will apply to what you say, what you write and what you do.
- Never respond to anyone in anger
- Consider your response against your core values. This makes it easier to make your choices.
- If you identify patterns in your reaction, stop and work out how you will deal with future situations. Make sure you follow this new way of responding when you encounter the same situations.
Responding appropriately is an art that requires a lot of practice. I am still practicing controlling my retorts. There are times when the mouth or fingers go into retort mode. Perseverance does pay off and those instances are becoming less. Take control of your life and claim your rights by responding appropriately to your environment.
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