Mindfulness: Respond Not React


We’ve all been in a situation where something doesn’t quite go our way. For example, our order at the restaurant is wrong. Some of us understand that mistakes are human and ask for a correction, while others react harshly, accusing the workers of being imbeciles who don’t know what they’re doing.

Which one are you?

Do you respond or react in tough situations?


GCFGlobal states that the ability to respond is “a conscious choice you make. It is a path you choose to take when moving forward.” Whereas a reaction is “how you feel at the moment of the change. It’s immediate, it’s instinctive, and it happens before you’re able to process things.”

Again a reaction is quick, and we don’t have the time to think and act. It may be due to our own fears and insecurities that we take offense to what has happened.

When it comes to responding, we are stopping to think before we act. This ability allows us to consider the situation and how we want to respond. 

Personally, when I’m facing a tough situation, I ask myself, “How do I want to view myself? And how do I want others to view me?” In this way I’m taking accountability for my actions before I even do anything. 

Pausing to ask myself these questions also allows me to remove myself from the situation, and to see it from other perspectives. Let’s go back to the restaurant situation–If I stop to think about the mistake, or even ask about it, I may learn that the restaurant is low staff for the day; I may learn that a new employee has just started their first day of work and mixed up the table orders. In both cases, the situation has nothing to do with me.


The takeaway from this is that we are only in control of ourselves, not others or situations. Therefore, if we learn to respond rather than react, we can become more aware of ourselves and become better versions of ourselves too.

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