In The Presence Process, author Michael Brown distinguishes between reaction and response:
“Reacting to our experiences means we make decisions based on what we believe happened yesterday and what we think may happen tomorrow. In contrast, we respond to our experiences when we make choices based on what’s happening right here, right now.”
Most people react to situations.
Their actions (or non-actions) are usually unconscious and automatic. Sometimes this is good — like a marital artist trained to instinctively block an attempted strike — but more often it isn’t. Especially in new, unusual or uncomfortable situations, we’re prone to react rather than respond.
Responding requires us to be more present, more conscious. Our behavior isn’t driven by fear or habit, but by awareness. We decide with a clear head how to handle the situation. There’s no such thing as a knee-jerk response.
Brown noticed a big change when he began responding to situations instead of reacting:
“This one simple shift in my behavior affected every facet of my experience.”
Think back on the situations you found yourself in today. How did you handle those situations? Were you responding or reacting?