Posted by: Edward | September 3, 2008

Choosing to Respond

Reacting is when you allow your habits and unconscious processes to act in reaction to external stimulus. This is the level where we say that someone made us feel something or when we say we couldn’t help ourselves. It means we aren’t taking responsibility for our actions. Responsibility is the ability to choose our response. When we respond we bring conscious awareness to select an action or attitude that best suits the situation and where we want it to go.

Reacting is easier but over the long term the results are worse. Responding is harder, at least at first, but is far more rewarding over the long run. You begin to switch from reacting to responding when you take responsibility for your actions. By acknowledging even the actions you didn’t like were your actions. When you are faced with a stimulus you have an opportunity to make a choice in your action. If you fail to make that choice, you react. You might not have realized you even had a choice in these situations. This is because your reaction habit is so firmly entrenched.

The solution is to bring consciousness to the situation. As you move forward and you encounter a situation where you would normally react without thought, just pause. Pause and watch your thought process. If you can delay you reaction even a little bit you can learn how to make choices there. Just pausing before you take action will reduce your reactivity.

Once you can pause before responding, practice thinking about what options you have, what responses are possible before you take action. At first this process will take a while but that’s okay as you practice you’ll find you can review your options very quickly. If someone presses you for a faster response just ask for a moment. A better response is worth the slight increase in time. Once you are comfortable reviewing your options reflect on what you want out of this situation. Once you can review your options and you have reflected on what you want out of the situation, CHOOSE the option most likely to move the situation in the direction you want. Now you are responding instead of reacting.

Maybe you have a recurring situation that you find overwhelming and you have been having trouble establishing a response pattern over your old reaction habit. One thing that you can do is practice choosing a response by visualizing walking through the situation when you have some quiet time to yourself. Visualize the situation that used to overwhelm you but this time as you go through it see yourself choosing your response rather than letting yourself react. Visualization practice has been shown to actively improve everything from public speaking to Olympic high jumping so it will work for you.

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  1. […] Projections. This whole process of increasing our will is part of the same goal as was addressed in Choosing to Respond. To put these in the old metaphors of occult practice both the right hand path and the left hand […]

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