Are you Reacting or Responding…..?

Are you Reacting or Responding…..?

Have you ever had one of those moments where you have done, sent or said something that you wish you could take back….where you drank too much and wish you hadn’t, where you ate something you wish you hadn’t, where you tried something that you wish you hadn’t…. Well Hell,who hasn’t! I have had one of those moments more than once thats for sure!

We are all Human

So here is the thing…. we all do this from time to time… its human nature… perfection is a fallacy… perfection exists only in an imperfect perception… and thats ok… so why do we beat ourselves up about? What causes the regret?

Hindsight… the ability to look back on something and know that we could have done it differently right…? Well there is a lesson and a curse in hindsight, and this is where, if we consider if we are responding or reacting to what presents itself in front of us, that we can make a real difference to the outcome of our actions. This is where we can have the pleasure of hindsight rather the it’s pain.

What the heck am I on about… let me put it into perspective for you…

When I was a 17 year old… way back in 1993… My high school PE teacher came to me and said he had nominated me for a Pierre De Coubertin Award. At the time I had no idea what he was on about, so upon asking I discovered it was an award program from the International Olympic Committee recognising talented young people who compete with the Olympic Spirit… I scoffed and told him I had no chance… but he persisted and said well I cant lodge it without an essay from you supporting my nomination… “Geez! more homework… thanks Sir “( insert massive eye roll!)… But like a good student I did it, and it was one of the hardest essays I had ever had to write, because it was about me! And I had to say good things! ( now we can talk more about that later…)

So a couple of months later it came about that I was awarded this special honor, and I should have been proud as punch, but I just wanted to hide it… In fact it was years later that my head teacher came to me and said that he was surprised to see my name on the list of recipients when he had gone to nominate a student (who I felt was so much more deserving than I could ever have been) and again it stirred up those feelings … So why hide it? Because it meant that I would be in the situation (again) where my peers would cut down my “Tall Poppy” flower BIG TIME! Now in the end the school was notified and it got bigger than I expected… Small town country girls don’t get these sort of awards often… and what I did was react … I shut myself off and talked it down to try and prevent further social repercussions… My reaction was to hide it … in hindsight my response should have been to own it! I should have grabbed it and ran with it, not caring about those who obviously felt the need to make themselves feel better by taking from others… all I did by reacting was feed the negative behaviour… and my own self loathing.

Putting this in another context I remember feeling so proud and excited to be wearing a cute pair of shorts that I had made from scratch by myself. You see we never had much as kids and my mother had taught me how to sew at an early age so that I could make my own clothes because at the time, it was actually cheaper to do that! So I developed the skill, making dolls clothes and progressing to making my own as an early teen. So the shorts I had made were really something I was proud of, gorgeous black and pink small floral fabric made to fit just how I wanted them. So why do I bring this up… because the very first time I wore them I vividly remember feeling so special, until I was told by someone who I held in high esteem that my bum looked big in those shorts… and it rocked my world… my reaction was to focus on what had been said not on what I had accomplished… I never wore those shorts again… in hindsight I should have worn those shorts to to death, I should have ignored the fly by comment in the same way they had ignored my effort, I should really have talked to that person and told them how it made me feel when they said that about me, that it was not just my shorts their comment included… my response should have been thought through…

Where am I going with all of this? In life we so quickly react to what is right in front of us that take away our opportunity to respond to it. A reaction is quick, innate, and more often than we would like to think is not the ideal way to deal with it and generates an action that perhaps even for a short time seems effective, however over time can result in deflation of self worth and lead to a longer term issue that is far less desirable. For example, you step in the scales after a 4 week stint at the gym and changing your eating patterns and you do not reach your goal, so your first response is to quit, and go back to having your wine and cheese each night, besides who likes getting sweaty and feeling “the burn” anyway!

A response however is more thought through, it takes time, considers more facets of input and is more likely to have a more positive outcome. For example, when those scales don’t tip in your favor you take a moment to think about how you have felt over the month, your moods, your sleep patterns, your cravings, & you think about how your back no longer hurts and your mummy tummy is not as “out there” as it used to be. You do some research and find that muscle gain is a common factor when starting an exercise program and it is in fact a positive contributor to better posture and metabolic function. So in the long term the fact you did not reach your goal becomes irrelevant compared to the positives that you achieve over time.

Now, the reality of this is two fold… not only are we impacting on our own health and wellbeing when we react rather than respond, we also role model this behaviour. Who is watching you? Who is learning from you? How is your reactive behaviour impacting on not only yourself but on others around you. Are you cutting the tall poppy down or are you hiding your flower away to protect it? I ask you does the risk of reacting outweigh that of responding?

FYI, I found my award just the other day hidden in amongst my personal documents and I pulled it out dusted it off and its now sitting on the shelf in our study. It did not stop me from continuing my sporting endeavors, nor did it stop me from inspiring other’s to strive for their goals in health wellbeing and sports. I still sew clothes, I made my own year 12 formal dress, my own veil when I got married, my own SheRa outfit ( think back to the 80’s – He Mans Sister, only more awesome than her brother!) for a recent fancy dress event, and I have just started to teach my 8 year old daughter to sew scrunchies now they are back in fashion again. The lesson, even when we do react we don’t have to live by it, we can move through the reaction and respond in a positive way. There is nothing wrong with getting it wrong, and there is nothing wrong with getting it right, so long as we pass on what we learn along the way.

So I will most likely still react at times, I am human, but I will make it my priority to consciously respond. I will learn as I go and I will no longer let my reaction or the reactions of others rule my life. I will surround myself with open minded people who lift each other up not tear each other down. I will role model the behaviors that I want to see in others.

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