How to Be Responsive vs. Reactive

We’ve all been there. A coworker or family member says or does something that makes us feel defensive or we end up on the other end of an internet debate that is quickly escalating. The stress caused by the chaos of a world in the middle of an epic transformation can take its toll and have us either wanting to hide away from it all or jumping into the fight.

Fortunately, we have other choices. We can participate in the unfolding and find ways to be part of the solution. We can stay engaged in our meaningful relationships by staying calm and grounded. Here’s one technique that helps us take a moment to get or stay self-regulated and choose our to be responsive rather than reactive to the situation at hand.

Here is some information to get you started including how to cultivate a mindful practice of counting and breathing, an affirmation to keep you going, and an audio with some practice and additional ideas.

1.) Take 4 Seconds

Stop. Right now. Count to 4.
That 4 seconds is everything.
It can save a life, a relationship, or a job.

It can be the difference between harm and nurture. Use it. 

Your direction will become more clear if you take a moment to check in before proceeding in life. It can make a huge difference in the outcome of your life in positive ways. It also helps calm the nervous system and allows you to become more self-regulated. You will become more confident in making choices and taking positive action when you take 4 because your decisions are coming from a more grounded and centered place. 

Your relationships will improve by taking 4 seconds. You will be response vs. reactive. You’ll become a better and more present listener for the important people in your life, including you. In truth, taking 4 seconds out before responding to anything is a gift you give yourself. Think of emails, texts, or posts on social media you’ve reacted to and later regretted. Forgive yourself for those moments and move towards a place of awareness. 

Use a 4 second breath to cherish and respect yourself and life and congratulate yourself when you remember. 

It’s the space between the bars that holds the tiger. 

2. ) Cultivate a practice.

Cultivate a practice of counting to 4 before speaking or acting. Congratulate yourself when you do this. Affirm your ability to be calm, centered, and patient. Practice when the stakes are low.

Taking a pause like this might sound simple but, in a highly triggered, fast-paced world it requires practice. Start by making it fun with low stakes things at home. Count to four before getting in the shower, before picking up your smartphone, or before turning on the radio.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

You are capable of being calm and responsive to life. 

3.) Use a 4 second breath to get it in your body.

Don’t just count. Create an embodiment practice of taking a 4 second breath before speaking or acting. Notice how you feel. Notice the energy in the room. 

Your affirmation:

I allow myself to pause before speaking & acting. 

Take 4 Seconds Audio

Right click to download to you device.

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How to Be Responsive vs. Reactive