5 Ways To Go From Reacting to Responding

When I look back to this journey I’ve committed to thus far, it’s a series of hills and valleys. There are ups and downs, it’s part of the commitment and process of self growth.

The valleys are where we learn the most, it’s that moment in which we begin to trek upward we begin to see change.¬†Tweet this

When I reflect back on the way I react to things I’ve recently began to notice myself slide back down the hill. Nothing compared to where I was prior to this journey; but I’m noticing it.

It’s during these moments of noticing the downward pull that I begin to be intentional about my actions and become more self aware.

Simply put, I need to do a better job of responding instead of reacting.

It’s such a quick thing that occurs, reacting instead of responding. Immediately following I fill up with guilt. It’s not how I want to be perceived as or feel. I don’t want to be short tempered reacting to the emotion.

Instead, I want to respond to the situation.

Here are 5 things to combat the reaction and focus more on responding:

Take a deep breath

Taking a deep breath will take away that stressful or anxious feeling that’s building in your chest. When you take a step back to focus on your breath for a second, you can proceed with responding instead of reacting purely on that emotional buildup.

It’s such a simple thing but our breathing is essential to a healthy body and mind.

Put that moment into perspective

Often times when that thing or moment causes you to react in such a short tempered manner you really need to dig deeper.

Is that moment the defining thing that caused you to react? Or is it something deeper, and maybe not even relevant to that moment, that is causing a build up of emotions in which you burst?

This moment, more or less, was the scapegoat for your reaction. Put that very moment into perspective and think about the root of such emotion. Where is it really stemming from?

Typically, for me, that thing is not at all what’s causing me to react so quickly. It’s something else that’s weighing on my mind; at the forefront or in some little nook. I might not even know what it is, but it’s there.

Instead step back and take a deep breath while thinking about this very moment. Is it even that big of a deal to react in such a way that impacts not only you, but the other person.

Think about the recipient

When you react instead of respond, you might feel guilty.

Now, think about the other person. Think about the shoes their standing in and how they now look at you. More importantly, think about how they might feel.

If this is a recurring theme it’s now become the total perception they have on you.


Immediately following a reaction I feel guilty for my actions. I try to be open and honest and sincerely apologize.

I never used to do this; if I did it would be later in the day or maybe even days later. This would then linger throughout my relationships.

I now try to immediately apologize and stress that the cause of my actions has nothing to do with this very moment, and more importantly, has nothing to do with the other person.

If you wait to apologize, that person will carry on throughout their day(s) thinking that your sudden reaction was all because of them. Provide clarity for the recipient.

Even if it is because of them, take a few minutes and have an open and honest conversation.

Relationships are precious and life is too short to be beating around the bush. The more open and honest we are with each other the more trusting and deeper our relationships become.


Not only do you need to dig deeper into why that reaction occurred, but think about the surroundings or environment that may have led to such reaction.

Was it because of the environment in which you placed that moment in?

Take some time each day and dedicate it to reflection; just fifteen to twenty minutes. However you do it, reflect and express.

Grab a pen and paper or digital journal and write it out. Typically these reactions are stemmed from emotional build up. Build up that can be easily released by mindful and simple reflection practices.

Respond don’t react. Reflect on the deeper issues. Be intentional about your actions and self growth.

Do you ever find yourself reacting to a situation versus responding to it?


Photo credit: Franco Folini via photopin cc

About Eric Ungs

Eric Ungs writes about a journey of intentional self growth, nudging you to let go; to give yourself permission to be vulnerable and honest with yourself so you can give your best self to others. Author of 10 Incredible Ways to Live a Fulfilling and Joyful Life ebook.

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