How many times have you done something at the spur of the moment and then regretted it? Perhaps you got upset because of something a family member said to you, perhaps you snapped at a co-worker because you thought they had slighted you in some way... this is what happens when we react to things without having a chance to think about them and make a choice to how we want to respond. Much like a doctor hitting your knee and causing your leg to move forward, we often react to things that are said in a "knee-jerk" way. Yet, once we've had a chance to consider our actions, we might choose to approach them differently.
It is important to recognize the difference between reacting and choosing. When we make a choice to do something, it's usually a thought-out, reasoned decision. When we emotionally react, it tends to often be a quick emotional response to something that happens. A good way to judge the difference is by recognizing whether you are rationally choosing what you are saying or doing, or if you are compelled to do it, with your emotions guiding your actions.
Anyone who has ever responded quickly when emotionally upset can see the difference between a reactive response and a reasoned, thought out one. The key to making choices that work more effectively in our favor as opposed to our detriment, is waiting for the emotional upset to subside before choosing what we want to do about a situation (especially an emotionally charged one). By giving ourselves a "pause" to consider what we want to do, we give ourselves time to let our reasoning have a say in our response as opposed to relying wholly on our emotions.
David Schwartz, M.S., LMFT
David brings a wealth of life experience to his therapy practice. In addition to his therapy training, David has been a self-motivated entrepreneur for over 20 years, as well as working as a producer in the television industry.
David Schwartz, MS., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist # 87261 -
30961 Agoura Rd., Suite 215, Westlake Village, CA 91361