Don’t React- Just Respond

‘Don’t react!’ said my father as I looked at my cousin who was glaring at me. She had come to stay with us for a few days. My cousin does not take no for an answer. If she likes something, she wants it and if her demand is not fulfilled, she flies into a rage. This was one of those instances when she had asked me for a pair of earrings that she had taken a fancy to. I blatantly refused since that pair was very dear to me.

Ten years ago when this incident happened and my father asked me not to react to my cousins accusations, I was puzzled. I wanted to tell my cousin what I exactly thought of her. However, my father told me to keep quiet and just go to my room. I did not give her the earrings and went to my room seething in anger. After some days, my cousin went back to her house.

Since then, like most people, I have encountered a lot of situations and problems in life. In many situations, I wanted to say exactly what I felt at that moment but refrained from doing so. And in a way, I am glad I did. Perhaps, I would have burnt a lot of bridges, broken a lot hearts and hurt a lot of people who were already seething within their own boiling anger. That would have even damaged my relationships with them for all time. But, that did not mean, I did not say what I wanted to tell them. I did RESPOND to them when their anger had subsided and things had cooled down. I waited for the right time not to tell them about how I was right but to speak to them about the situation.

My father does not react to a lot of things that are said to him by different people. He hears people out and keeps quiet. He thinks and mulls over it for some time before he decides the appropriate course of action. According to him, when you react, you give away your power to the other person and that takes away all the control of the situation.

In the olden days, when armies used to invade another state or country, they would always surround the state before the actual invasion and ask them to surrender. The ruler of the state in question had a choice; he could either just jump into the war without thinking or he could ask for time and plan his strategy. Generally, people who adopted the second course of action were more likely to win the war.

Today, in a world which is constantly bombarded with facebook posts, tweents, instagram moments, we are being constantly asked to react to events and people. We either like or dislike a situation depending on the emotion governing us at the time. We don’t think about it, we don’t mull over it; we simply react and that is what we do in our relationships too. We get upset, we get angry, we say bad words to each other and we don’t realize that in the heat of the moment we have destroyed something so fragile and irrepairable!

What if we remember that the other person is not reacting to us but his perception of us. What if we remember that most people don’t react to the situation but the pain or the memories or the insecurities that the situation triggers inside them? What if we remember that most people are nothing but beings locked up in their houses which are haunted by ghosts, fears, negativity and apprehensions that have been accumulated over years and it is through these filters that they view every situation!

Do you react or respond to any situation or people who are angry, upset or irritated with you? Do let me know in the comments section!

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