Acting vs Reacting

One of the best skills you can ever develop as a human being is the fine art of acting vs reacting.

This is one of those things you learn more and more as you get older. That is if you’re willing to listen to life’s lessons sent your way. A professor in college used to urge us to act instead of reacting.

I’d just sit there thinking, “WHAT EXACTLY IS THAT SUPPOSED TO EVEN MEAN?”

Years later, I think I finally get it, and it’s a lesson well worth grasping.

Well, let’s talk about it, in plain English.

What Does it Mean to React?

Acting vs Reacting: What is the Difference and How Does it Affect My Life?

Someone who reacts is someone who is always responding to what is going on around them.

On the outset, this may not seem to be a bad thing. In fact, many times we feel compelled to respond to those things that are important to us.

Reacting can be either a good or a bad thing, but most of the time it’s bad.

Reacting can be bad when you are constantly responding to everything out there.

Instead of your core values guide, you allow everyone and everything yank your chain. You’re being trolled. Everything is rattling you except what is important to you.

Reacting is bad when you are constantly responding w/o forethought (acting) Click To Tweet

Let me give you an example. Do you flip out over whatever social issue is going on around you? Are these things that you flip out over anything you can actually do something about? Does your flipping out affect any positive change?

No? Then you are reacting, not acting.

You’re wasting energy and resources that you could use on something more productive. Knock it off.

Acting is Purposeful

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But, someone who acts instead of reacts is someone living life on purpose. I have talked about productivity and focusing on what is important to you. This is part of that topic.

You can avoid reacting when you have already decided what is and is not important to you. You have figured out what you want to focus your time and energy on.

So, you can ignore all the trolling that goes on in social media and politics.

Sure, you acknowledge something is going on.

But you also recognize you can’t add anything productive to the situation. So you put on your big girl panties and you carry on with things that matter more to you.

You may even find a way to use this in a positive way in your life and the lives of others.

Someone who reacts is not in control of how things affect them. They allow everything to bombard and affect them.

Someone who has chosen to act instead has already decided beforehand what they are going to concern themselves with.  They choose not to let the twaddle and trolling of life’s big mouths bombard and affect them.

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Acting vs. Reacting in Action

So, what does this look like in real life situations?

If I hear about some social or political issue that is out of my control,  I don’t react. I don’t waste my time and emotional energy freaking out. I may pray about it.  If it’s that awful, I write to my elected leaders.

But then I move on with what I already decided ahead of time to focus on. I reflect on my goals and personal mission statement.

If I hear about some humanitarian crisis going on that I might be able to help with if I have the means to help I do. This is part of being a blessing and an encouragement (two of my core values in my mission statement). Normally, my goal is to be a blessing and an encouragement to those that are closest to me in our geographic location and sphere of influence. I don’t generally, as a core principle, like to just throw cash at problems to ease my own conscience.

So, I look for ways to be a blessing and an encouragement when people cross my path.

Being a Blessing Is about Acting Vs Reacting

Acting vs Reacting: What is the Difference and How Does it Affect My Life?

Say I’m in line at the grocery store and there’s a lady in line in front of me who doesn’t have enough money for her groceries. She’s trying to figure out if she should keep the diapers or the formula, or the dog food…guess what? I’m not rich either, but I want to be a blessing.  I want to be Christlike, so I have in the past and will continue to as God provides pay for her groceries. I will attempt to encourage her that we’ve been there, and God has graciously brought us through. And I will encourage her that when she comes out on the other end, go out and be a blessing to others too.

A few weeks ago hubby paid for a tank of gas for a single mom in need that he met at the gas station. She was in tears with a nearly empty tank and five dollars in her pocket.  On the same day, I paid for the groceries of an elderly couple who were short at the store. I say that not to be a braggart, but to just remind us all God sends opportunities.But, we may miss it if we’re still distracted by some culture war issue we’re still riled up about.

This kind of acting is so much more peaceful and productive to my own heart. It’s more helpful to the emotions of others. It’s even better for the cause of Christ than reacting to nonsense.

Freaking out about things outside of my control is a waste of my energy and life. Click To Tweet

Freaking out about things outside of my control is a waste of my energy and life.