Episode 128 | React or Respond? How Your Emotional Wellbeing Depends On Your Choice

Did you know that reacting and responding are actually two different things?

Not only that, our emotional experience of any situation depends on which path we choose.

When we react, we engage without deliberate choice. In doing so, it is easy to believe we are at the mercy of our circumstances and what is happening around us. 

When we respond, we engage with intention. This allows us to decide purposely what we want to believe, how we want to feel, and what we will do in response. 

When we respond we maintain our personal power.

When we react we give our power away.

In this episode I dive into the differences between reacting and responding, and share why it is so important for each of us to learn how to respond with intention. 

The quality of your life depends on developing this skill.

Let’s go!



Website: https://joyfuldvm.com

Music Credit: Music by Lesfm from Pixabay


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This transcript is auto-generated and may contain typos.

Hi there. I'm Dr. Cari Wise, veterinarian, certified life coach and certified quantum human design specialist. If you're a veterinary professional looking to uplevel your life and your career, or maybe looking to go in an entirely new direction, then what I talk about here on the Joyful DVM podcast is absolutely for you. Let's get started. Hello my friends.

Welcome back to another episode of the joyful DVM podcast. Today I wanna spend a few minutes talking about the difference between responding and reacting, because when we start to understand the difference between these two things, we actually can can begin to understand an opportunity to decrease the stress and anxiety that we experience day in and day out in our jobs and also in every aspect of our lives.

It really comes down to the difference in these two things. So when we think about responding and reacting at first glance, we think they really are synonyms that they mean the same thing most of the time. And it's true that we often use these two words interchangeably, but if you dig a little bit deeper, you'll find that reacting has to do with taking action where responding has to do with speaking words or thinking words.

So one is about communication, and the other is about action, reaction, reacting. That's action, responding. That's communication. And the difference there actually has a profound impact on how we experience whatever's happening around us. Now, most of the time, we typically just react to what's happening. This is the survival instinct that kicks in. This is the fight or flight.

This is the conditioned response, if you will. When things happen around us, we just react to those things. And when we are in true danger, that's not a bad thing at all, especially when we don't even have to think about what our reaction is. So for example, if you've been down in front of a dog and it lunges at you and tries to bite you,

and you leap out of the way before you ever even realize you're moving, that's a reaction. It's so fast that you didn't have any time to actually think about what you were doing before you did it. You simply acted. And that kind of scenario where there's a true danger reacting is very, very useful. But the rest of the time when we react,

meaning we take action without even thinking about what we're about to do, the result that we create for ourselves often is not the best result that we could have created. And by best result, what I mean is the result that creates a situation where you feel better than you did at the start. So when we just react to what people say and to what people do and to case outcomes in that reaction,

when we just take action, when we just yell back at people, when we snark at people, when we behave badly, that is just a reaction that doesn't have any space for consideration in the middle of it. On the other hand, if we will intentionally respond to the things that happen around us, we will create a completely different experience for ourselves.

Remember, respond includes communication, and that communication can actually be internal. So between the things that happen in the world and the way that we feel about those things, remember there's always space there. There is a place where you get to slow it all down and decide for yourself what you want to believe. And it's when we slow it down to intentionally decide what we want to believe about the situation at hand,

that we gain control of our emotional reaction to it. So our emotional reaction doesn't have to be inevitable given a certain sense, a certain stack of circumstances right now, it often feels like it does. It feels like there isn't any choice in the way that we feel when certain things happen. And that is a belief system actually that has been compounded for our entire lives.

We are taught from a very early age that the things around us actually create the way that we feel, and we have had that experience for ourselves because we've noticed how quickly we feel bad in certain situations. So of course, it's completely normal for us to conclude that the situations themselves are responsible for the way that we feel. So if we're feeling stressed out,

if we're feeling anxious, if we're feeling sad, and we can then conclude or recognize I should say, the different events have happened immediately prior to us feeling stressed out or anxious or sad, then it's a normal conclusion that our mind would make that the events themselves created those emotions. But that's not at all what's happening. However, when we have had that experience over and over again,

what we conclude is that there is a emotional reaction that comes from the circumstances. There is no space then for us to have a different experience. We start to buy into, I guess I should say the and inevitable reaction given a certain set of circumstances. And this becomes its own new belief system that we will always feel a particular way when certain things happen,

so that we'll always feel stressed out or anxious when we see Mrs. Smith on the schedule or when we have to do a dog spay the next day, right? These are circumstances, and we aren't required to automatically feel stressed out or anxious in regard to those things. But if we have in the past, we start to draw a conclusion that those things are creating our anxiety or our stress.

And so our physiologic reaction to those circumstances becomes stress and anxiety, and it doesn't feel like there's any way around that except for maybe to avoid dealing with Mrs. Smith or doing dog spays or insert whatever circumstance you want to. That's where the control part comes in. This is why we try to control all the variables, because the variables that we're trying to control are actually the circumstances.

So if we have noticed that when we see a dog spay on our schedule, we feel anxious and we feel stressed, we think the solution is to remove the dog spay. If we notice, we feel stressed out and worried when we see Mrs. Smith on our appointment schedule, we believe that the solution is to avoid having Mrs. Smith show up on our schedule.

And so it's simply a reaction that we're having to those circumstances, that stress and that anxiety, and then couple that with the conclusion that our mind has created, which is that the circumstances has created that stress and anxiety that drives us then to try to control everything. Notice that that is an action. So this is all part of a reaction type habit.

It's a cycle of behavior around reaction. It completely disregards the opportunity to respond. The difference being when we respond, we do so with intention. When we respond, we slow everything down. It doesn't mean that the circumstances are any different. We'll still have a dog's pay on our schedule. We'll still see Mrs. Smith on our appointment book. But when we see those circumstances,

if we choose to respond, we can have a different emotional experience, that stress and anxiety don't have to be inevitable. And if they do pop out up, they don't have to stick around. We could actually help them move on and create a different emotional experience for ourselves, but we must respond instead of react. Responding means that in the moment we take a beat to ask ourselves,

what do we wanna believe about this situation? What is the train of thought that my mind is offering me around this dog spay around Mrs. Smith on the appointment book? Why do I believe those things? What am I afraid of? When we get into response mode, we become more curious and we intentionally decide what we wanna believe in that situation. Because what we wanna remember is that emotion is always created by what we believe,

not by what's actually happening. When we are in reaction mode, we are forgetting that space exists. When we are reaction mode, we're simply believing that circumstances create emotional experiences when we slow it down and we allow ourselves to intentionally respond, we remember their space and we decide for ourselves what we wanna put in there in regard to the belief. It is the belief that we choose that will then create the emotion that we experience.

We get to be in control. And my friends, at the end of the day, we always were. We just didn't remember that. We forgot that we weren't introduced that before. Now, this all comes back to a concept that you've heard me talk about before called Leveraging the Space. And as Viktor Frankl put it between stimulus and response, there is a space.

And in that space is your ability to choose your response. So what that means is that between the things that happen in the world and the way that you feel about them, you get to decide for you 100% of the time. And when we work in a profession like veterinary medicine, which is very much tied to an appointment schedule and often includes people who are very emotional and medical emergencies and urgent situations,

we often forget that we have the opportunity to respond instead of simply reacting. But I promise you, there is nothing so urgent that response is not an available option for you. There's always an opportunity to slow it down so that you can control your experience of whatever's happening around you. And let's save that reaction thing for when it's really needed for those moments when your patient really is trying to bite you and you need to leap out of the way.

Or when something's about to fall off a table and you just reach out and catch it, that's a very healthy reaction. But when reaction mode takes over every type of interaction that we have with the world around us, we will necessarily feel stressed out and anxious most of the time. Because reacting doesn't come from a high emotional state place. It doesn't come from a high level of emotional wellbeing.

Reaction is down there in those more negative and pressing emotions. The stress, the anxiety, the worry, the fear with fear probably being the primary driver in most cases. And when our net emotional state falls down to those negative spectrums, those lower level, lower vibration emotions, the overall life experience that we have will follow it. Remember, our thoughts are what creates our emotions,

our emotions and drive our actions and our actions create our outcomes. So the state of our lives at this point in time are simply our reflection of our state, of our emotional wellbeing. And one of our quickest opportunities to uplevel our own emotional wellbeing is simply to practice responding instead of simply allowing reacting. Reacting keeps us at the mercy of the things around us because it creates no space for us to consider for ourselves and to decide with intention what we want to believe and what we want to do.

Responding, on the other hand, puts us back in control of our lives. Not only the actions that we take, but the way that we feel every step of the way it's possible to work in a high pressure, highly compassionate environment while also maintaining a very high level of emotional wellbeing. It's possible to engage in these situations without feeling stressed out and anxious all of the time,

and carrying that stress and anxiety home with us. The only difference between packing that around and leaving it behind is whether or not we stay in reaction mode or we intentionally choose response mode. And at the heart of all that, my friends is simply leveraging the space. So as you go through the next week, I want you to pay attention to what is driving the actions that you're taking in your life.

Are you reacting to what's happening around you? Do you feel like you're running around with your hair on fire all the time? Do you feel overwhelmed by the number of questions and requests that you're getting? Do you feel like you're putting out fire after fire after fire? Because if any of that is what resonates for you, then you're probably stuck in reaction mode along with the vast majority of the world.

So you're in good company, but it's not an inevitable way of living. Remember, instead, you have the opportunity to slow it down to decide with intention, how you wanna respond to whatever's presented to you. Just because somebody else is all freaked out about the situation at hand doesn't mean that you have to be as well. And even when your sympathetic nervous system tries to kick off and jump into reaction mode,

you can still take a breath and reevaluate your situation and to decide to respond. Instead, when you respond, you decide with intention. When you decide with intention, you create the emotional experience of the circumstances that you want to have. You're not at the mercy of what your brain offers you as your first option. And it's not a problem that your mind automatically wants to jump to panic,

because that's part of what is designed to do. But whether or not you believe that panic, that's where you have choice, choice that most of us don't even recognize is available to us because we've never slowed it down to try to interrupt the reaction that automatically happens. So this week, my friends, I'd love for you to play around with that. And remember,

it all comes down to leveraging the space. When you learn how to leverage the space, you learn how to increase your emotional wellbeing no matter what happens at work and in the world. And when you do that, anything is possible. All right, my friends, have a beautiful week. I'll see you next time. Bye for now.