Has this happened to you?
You’re sure that you know what’s going to happen next in a situation. You think that you already know the outcome so you’ve already accepted it in your mind and in many ways moved forward with your thought processes.
Then, life throws you a curve ball and it gives you a different outcome.
Wait, this wasn’t supposed to happen!
You knew what was coming and this wasn’t it. You want to say, let’s go back and try that again. Unfortunately, you can’t and you have to deal with a different outcome or set of circumstances than you thought.
Will you act or react to the situation? There’s going to be a big difference in your response depending on whether you act or react to it.
The difference between acting and reacting.
There can be a big difference between acting and reacting. When something happens in your life and you immediately respond, then you are reacting. For example, you’re driving down a busy street. All of a sudden someone pulls out in front of you. Most likely you’re going to react instinctively to this by swerving or breaking to avoid the other car. You’re not going to take the time to ponder your various options. In this instance reacting is probably a very good thing.
Often though, life’s actions don’t necessitate an immediate reaction. Think about someone giving you some unexpectedly bad news. You could react by getting mad at them and saying hurtful things to them. That’s usually an unhelpful response. Instead, you could pause, breathe, and take in what is being told to you. When you’ve done this, then you give yourself time to get more information, to accept the situation and to consider how to respond. Now, you can respond with an action that is appropriate and that will be more helpful.
My unexpected turn of events…
I’m thinking specifically of a previous event in my life. I thought I knew the outcome of a situation. Then I did a little more checking and wait, what I expected to happen didn’t.
It was something that was really important to me and I was not at all happy with the new result. Since I wasn’t in charge of the final result, I had to accept what was being presented to me. The problem was this wasn’t so easy to do.
Will you act or react when this happens?
As with so many things in life, what’s happened is less important than our reactions to it.
Do you stomp your feet that the universe is not following the ‘plan’? Do you ignore what is happening and live in a state of denial? Do you accept the new path and adapt? Do you complain to everyone about the injustice of this change?
Oh so many options!
Reality is that all of these options don’t change what has happened. They only change your perception of what has happened.
I can tell you that in this case, I was a a bit devastated. It took awhile to come to terms with the new direction. It wasn’t what I planned but maybe it was how it should have been. I spent the first couple of hours being mad at the universe for this change in direction. I reacted and I caused myself more pain. It seemed unfair and unjustified. Eventually though, I was ready to do what I could to work with what I had. I gave myself a chance to pause and breathe. Only then was I ready to act in a way that was more helpful.
I moved from Plan A on to Plan B. As the new Plan B was slowly formed I sat with it a bit to see what showed up for me. You see, there’s often no need to rush right into a different action. So, I considered my options and figured out what would work best for me. This was my chance to pause before I acted.
Find your peace again.
I’ve been reading a bit lately about finding your peace within. There are a lot of ways to do this. In this example, you can find your peace again by changing your reactions to a situation even when you can’t change the situation. You see, it’s your reactions that cause the most pain in your life. It’s not so much the situation, but your reaction to the situation. You have to decide will you act or react to whatever is happening in your life.
While I can understand this intellectually, actually changing my reactions is a whole different thing. It’s much harder than it sounds. Reactions are often instinctual. We frequently react before we think about what is happening. It doesn’t have to be this way though. Another way is to take in a situation or event, pause for just a second to let it sink in and then act from a place of inner wisdom and calm.
I could see this difference in my situation.
It was my original reaction that caused my immediate distress. It was my refusal to work with the details that I was given. After a little bit of time, I had a little distance and I could see things a little bit differently. My perspective changed and I felt less distress. I still wasn’t excited with this new turn of events, but I was ready to work with what I had rather than push it away and live in denial. I was ready to act.
Even though I can see the benefit to changing my reaction to a situation, I often still want to change a situation as well. So, maybe its about finding your inner peace while you work to correct a situation. Maybe its about keeping your calm while you work with what you have. Really, what I’m talking about is acceptance here. Only by accepting a situation can you act accordingly. When you aren’t able to accept it, then you’ll be stuck in a reaction only mode.
It’s a practice!
I don’t have all the answers. I just know that I’m learning and growing a bit more each day. I can see that my early reaction didn’t really help the situation I’m talking about and that it just caused me more pain. So, I learned from it. I grow a bit more each time this happens and hopefully tomorrow I’ll be a bit wiser.
How about you? Will you act or react to the the next challenging situation in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment and let’s start a discussion about acting versus reacting.