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mindset relationships

stop reacting before responding

There are a lot of people that react to any kind of obstacle, setback, or challenge. Reactions are reflexive, ego-driven, and only consider the short-term outcome. Reactions make you feel better, but don’t resolve an issue effectively.

Responding is different. It’s intelligent, practical, and considers the long-term implications of that course of action.

People that react struggle and are known for making impulsive decisions. Those that respond have fewer struggles in life. As it turns out, the biggest hassles in life are usually of your own making.

Let’s consider an example that highlights the differences between reacting and responding:

Imagine that you have a horrible boss. Today at work, he berates you for something that isn’t your fault. He calls you a mean name. He says that you’re a worthless employee. You leave work enraged and convinced that you can’t take it anymore.

Reacting to this situation might entail quitting . You march in the next day and tell him exactly what you think of him. However, when you get home, you realize that the job market is tight, you have no savings, and no employment prospects.

Responding to this situation entails using mindfulness to your advantage. When you keep the mind focused, you stand to gain a host of benefits.  

By using visualization to increase your mindfulness throughout the day, you’ll discover exactly what your thoughts are doing to you. You’ll see how “where” you focus your thoughts can impact your life. 

When you don’t focus your thoughts, they can run the gamut from dwelling on the past to jumping ahead to the future that hasn’t happened yet. When your mind doesn’t keep focused on the present, you can limit the productivity and success that you can achieve in your life both in your personal and professional side. 

Visualization meditation can increase your mindfulness so that you realize the times when you’re causing internal harm to yourself with your thoughts. You can even be caught up in thought patterns that keep you trapped in a certain mindset. 

The problem with staying trapped in a certain mindset is that your emotions are tied to your thoughts. If you think sad or angry thoughts about the past, especially if those are things that hurt you and you can’t change them, then your emotions will quickly follow suit. 

What you think about not only can sway your emotions, but these thoughts can produce physical side effects such as higher blood pressure, weight gain, and more. Visualization can help to strengthen your mindfulness which will let you stay focused on the current moment. 

It can be especially helpful because the mind can start to wander. When you have visual clues, these can bring you gently back into focus. The visualization process can help you to go through your day aware of the present but not judging it. 

This in turn can allow you to be calmer even when there’s a stressful event taking place. Not only that, but when you have better mindfulness, it means that you’ll be able to see things as they are which will allow you to make choices that aren’t based on the past or in the future. 

When you use visual meditation, it can help you to see where you want to be in life and can help you to focus on present goals. Visualization can help you to have better mindfulness that can lead you to make changes that you want to make. 

For example, you use visualization meditation and you determine that you need to find another job. You work on your resume. You put out feelers to everyone you know that have or know of a position that’s suitable for you. You get in touch with a recruiter and let them know that you’re looking.

You also cut back on your expenses and save some money just in case you lose your job.

Reacting is short-sighted and risky. Responding is thoughtful and logical.

How can you strengthen your odds of success when challenges arise?

Following this process will help you to respond rather than react:

  1. Steady yourself. It’s hard to be intelligent, logical, and practical when your emotions are high. Never make an important decision when you’re not cool, calm and collected. Take the time you need. Mull it over. Consider your options.
  2. Identify the problem. What is the issue that you need to resolve? Think about what you want to change. Avoid changing a bunch of other things that may have a negative impact on your life. In the example above, you’d get away from your boss, but drastically change your income, too.
  3. Be clear on the outcome you desire. It’s just as important to consider the outcome you desire. You might hate your job, but you don’t just want to get away from it. You’ll want a good landing place, too.
  4. Make an intelligent plan. Create a plan that resolves your issue and gives you the outcome you desire. Reacting only removes the initial problem. It doesn’t provide a great outcome. A good plan does both.
  5. Execute that plan. Use your plan. There are a lot of people that are great at making plans, but never execute them. You don’t want to be one of those people. Put your plan to the test and see what happens.

If you’re someone that reacts to the challenges in your life, you already know the additional challenges it can bring. It’s the perfect example of “out of the frying pan and into the fire.”

Avoid making decisions when you’re upset. Calm yourself first. Then make an intelligent decision that will remove that challenge from your life in a way that leaves you better than you started.

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By Addy

Inspirational blogger, previous Yahoo Voices writer. Meditation practitioner.

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