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Do you react or respond?★

Choice 1: React
Your reaction is the first thing that
comes to you. Those thoughts and
feelings that flash over you. You can
allow those emotions to guide you as
you march “right in there” and try to
get to the bottom of it. Usually by
doing this you make the other people
around you feel uncomfortable, stupid,
wrong, and intimidated, whether you
intend to or not.
Allowing negative emotions to
consume you and to allow yourself to
continue acting through them won’t
make the vase any less broken.
Instead, you have allowed your
reaction to one small incident, likely
an accident, ruin the entire evening,
weekend, or week. You have created a
very hostile environment in which
everyone, including yourself, feels
very uncomfortable, on edge and
tense. Depending on the severity of
your reaction you may have done a fair
bit of damage to those relationships
and it can take a very long time to
rebuild that connection and trust
It’s not to say that having an initial
reaction is wrong, in fact it’s
completely normal. However, running
with those emotions and doing or
saying things that make others
unhappy, as well as yourself, will only
cause tension and strain relationships.
Choice 2: Respond
Your second choice is to respond,
which is a much more positive
approach. You can choose to have an
outcome in which everyone walks
away feeling good simply by putting a
bit of distance between you and the
event, either time or physical distance.
In this case when you hear the vase
smash into a million little pieces it’s
fine to rush in to make sure everyone
is okay but once that’s established
take a couple of seconds and breathe.
Ask yourself these questions:
Is this really a big deal? Odds are
the answer to this question will
always be no. There isn’t much in
life that is ever REALLY a big deal.
Denting a car, smashing a vase,
leaving a door unlocked–all not big
deals. Are they annoying? Are they
unfair? Do they make you feel a bit
angry? Sure. But they really aren’t
big deals in the grand scheme of 90
years of your life.
Was it intentional? Likely not. Most
people aren’t inherently bad or out
to get you. Most people don’t even
make it their hobby to just tick you
off. A lot of things are done by
accident and are completely
unintentional. Should people know
better? Maybe. But does it help to
get angry and act in a way that
makes both them and YOU
unhappy? Likely not.
Is this worth ruining a relationship
over? My guess is no. There are
very few things, none that actually
come to mind , that are worth
ruining most relationships over.
Things are things that’s it. Yes, you
can become emotionally attached
to things but, for me at least, the
personal relationships that I have
mean more to me than all the stuff
I could ever acquire.
How to respond
1. Space. Create a gap between you
and the stimulus, either time or
distance. It doesn’t have to be for long
but just enough for you to cool down
put and things into perspective. Ask
yourself the above three questions
and decide on how to respond in a way
that gets your point across but also
leaves you feeling good about the way
you handled yourself in the moment.

2. Compassion. Try to put yourself in
the other persons’ shoes. How would
you like to be treated if it were you
that broke the vase? Keeping in mind it
was most likely an accident. Would you
like to be spoken down to, made to feel
stupid, yelled at or disrespected? I
didn’t think so. Neither would the
other person, I can assure you.

3. Tone. Choose your tone carefully
when speaking to someone over an
incident that may have upset you. It’s
not just what you say but how you say

4. Let it go. Once you’ve addressed the
situation and have gotten your point
across LET IT GO. The vase will be no
less broken if you hold a grudge or
draw the “punishment” out over a day,
weekend or week. You’ve made your
point so once it’s cleaned up move on.
It comes back to the last question is
this worth ruining a relationship over?
What to do when you react
Apologize. Yes, it’s really that simple.
It’s not right to “fly off the handle” no
matter how unfair you perceive things
to be. It’s disrespectful and you can
imagine how it would feel if you were
on the receiving end, not so great.
To some of you this may come as a bit
of a shock but, you’re not perfect. No
one is. We all make mistakes, we all
say dumb things occassionally, we’re
only human after all. Not only is it
important to apologize to the other
person, it is also important to forgive
yourself. Don’t get hung up on it. Take
note of how you feel and what you did
or said. Remember these actions and
feelings the next time you’re
presented with a less than ideal
situation, and don’t make it a repeat
To say “I can’t help it” or “I’m just hot
headed” doesn’t cut it. You do have a
choice. Get control over yourself and
revel in the feeling of empowerment
that comes from it. Choose to feel
proud of the way you respond to
situations however, don’t expect an
overnight transformation this is
something that takes work. Treat
people with the kindness and respect
they deserve and next time choose to
respond not to react.

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