Reacting vs Responding
I believe strongly that transformation is only done through training, not just trying or knowing, but actively DOING. When we realize we are in the training circle and God is training us through victories, failures and everything in between, it puts our lives in an understandable context. We can then become a willing participant in the growth.
I was talking to one of my clients about this kind of training. Now, he served in the military for years so he knows a thing or two about training. Having gone through layers of what could be one of the most expert training processes in our world today, I wanted to know what he defines training as. He said,
Training is building enough muscle memory, whether physically, mentally, emotionally, etc., that no matter the situation we respond instead of react.
What a great definition! When we react we are not in control nor intentional about our actions and behaviors. In fact, emotionally and relationally, reacting gives away authority and leaves intentionality in the dust… but when responding we take them both back. We can ask the transformational question: Who do I want to be in this moment? and respond accordingly. By asking this we tap into our critical thinking brain versus allowing our fight or flight triggering to make decisions for us.
Photo by Anastasia Petrova on Unsplash
If the men and women of our military have to train to learn how to respond in difficult situations, why wouldn’t we think that we would need to do the same? When the bullets of relationships, marriage, kids, work, emotion, addiction, past wounds and so much more come flying at us, are we prepared? Do we have the tools and expertise to navigate in healthy ways? Most do not, but only because we haven’t trained.
We can now begin to build the muscle memory of healthy awareness by:
- Pausing before you react: Begin to recognize the moments you react and use these as a healthy trigger to pause BEFORE you react.
- Practice curiosity and awareness: Why am I reacting this way? Why are they reacting this way? What is behind this?
- Who do I want to be in this situation?: What behaviors, words, practices, etc. align with who I want to be?