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Respond or React

When I started to write this blog, I saw that my last post was in the beginning of June, just as summer was beginning. You could have taken my hiatus as a summer break, but let me tell you it was far from it! The role of wife, mom, daughter and friend took all of my attention and it was necessary for me to be present 100% of that time.

But inside, where I regret none of my actions, there is that part in my head needling at me that I dropped the ball here. Party of 1 right here! I have to remind myself that I’m right where I need to me in this moment. On my very busy plate, I could have been forging ahead with my summer IFL classes. I ask myself if my clients would have gotten the best of me, knowing what I’ve now pushed though. Being the overachiever I am, the answer is yes. But I wouldn’t have thought so!

If you haven’t figured me out yet, I’m extremely hard on myself. Forgiving towards others to a fault, but I don’t give myself that same level of forgiveness. In one moment during the last month, I sat bedside with a loved one in the hospital. I couldn’t contain my inner anxiousness to do something. I knew the right thing was to sit still and just be present. That’s what was needed in the moment. However my inner self was crawling up the walls.

So I sit here, in Wegmans as my daughter is at an appointment so I’m killing time until I pick her up. And I think of how this relates to my beloved teens. What gem of knowledge could I instill.

Luckily, I knew that piece before I sat down!

Life is not about doing things. It’s how you respond to what life throws your way!

My favorite band, Barenaked Ladies, recently released a song “Lovin’ Life” and one of the lyrics says “We’re Lovin’ life, We love it so much that we wanna live it twice.” It has been resonating with me all week.

No one has an easy life. There are so many things that an individual deals with. Sometimes it’s inner responses over external actions… and it’s INDIVIDUAL. Please don’t compare my hard to your hard. It’s just not the same!

Reacting versus responding was at the forefront of my mind while my daughter was driving me to breakfast the other day. The simple act of a car pulling out in front of us caused different reactions. I remained quiet since this blog post was in my mind.

I saw the car stop, but was pulled out a little more than my comfort level allowed. I *knew* they were going to pull out. My daughter still had a good amount of distance, so I was sure she’d have adequate time to react if needed. And that’s exactly what happened. I would have slowed when I saw the car, but she didn’t. She waited until it pulled out to slow down. Nothing wrong with it at all, but it’s the difference between the years of experience. I was responding to the whole situation, while my daughter was reacting to the actual event.

As a teen, I knew my mom’s temper pretty well. As an adult, I know that it was her reacting to things. She was in a constant state of stress and, frankly, mental health just wasn’t as important, so I wonder if she needed something more than just a break. What’s my point? Oh, right. Growing up, I always worried about her reaction. In our younger years, we internalize other people’s reactions. ”I’m not loved because I got yelled out” is something our super young selves program into our minds because we don’t know better! And believe me, this isn’t a “My mom yelled at me once and I never got over this” post. It’s actually come up in several of the trainings I got when certifying. It’s situations that create our personal experience and understanding.

Fast forward to now, raising kids at the same age of my story, I had to remember that my own responses weren’t always because I was told something “disappointing”. No one knows what’s going on in my head at any given point. Please don’t tell my husband that when he’s expected to know! I’m juggling lots of to-do list items, responsibilities and concern for multiple people. “One more” thing just isn’t something I can mentally handle sometimes!

So as I’ve raised my own kids and remember my experiences (and clearly see how much like my mom I can be!), I’ve always told them to not fear my reaction. If they have something to share, just share it. They will have had more time to digest it and if it’s a shock, let me react and when I cool down, I’ll respond. It’s helped me through the years. Not that we’ve had anything fall into that category, but because my kids always knew I loved them and had their back.

I like to say reaction is the immediate OMG moment to something. Response is the thought out/logical “how to handle” moment after taking a breath.

So do you react or respond?

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