Can’t Believe I Missed This One… by Chuck Kelley
I love truly Audacious Power Tools that have been hiding in plain sight the whole time. Insights, Ahas, holy shits, what the fucks, and all of those mind blowing, Wow inducing, Kodak moments that change our lives profoundly and permanently in a flash! (No pun intended)
This morning I was minding my own business, blueprinting my day, when one of those Tools snuck up and sunk its teeth deep into my psyche. It posed its challenge as a question. “Are you primarily Reactive or Responsive?” Without delay (I’ve always prided myself on my quickness), I replied…Huh? That shut it up, but did not answer the question.
Reactive is to React Impulsively and Responsive is to Respond with Constraint. I looked it up!
Another way to put it is; To React is pretty much reflexive and to Respond is to take the information in and consider things before a reply of any sort is allowed to escape!
Reacting is usually accomplished lickety-split and kind of semi-unconsciously. Responding is taking the information in, STOPPING, then considering all of, or at least the most pertinent, potential results, ramifications and consequences before any further communication is consummated.
According to neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, Ph.D., Reacting is instinctual, primitive and directed by the Reptilian Brain, whose primary goal is to avoid harm through the choice of fight, flight or freeze. Whenever we are pressured, worried, irritated or disappointed the Lizard takes charge. My question is when aren’t we feeling pressured, worried, irritated or disappointed? No wonder the vast majority of us are Reactive!
Dr. Hanson explains in his book, Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time, how the brain evolved slowly in stages. First was the Reptilian which we are intimately familiar with, and then came the Mammalian portion, aka the Limbic System, whose job it is to spotlight approaching rewards and lastly is the Cortex which allows us to become Human and it is that portion of us which forms attachments.
Ok, so this is where we begin to see that the quality of our lives GREATLY depends upon if we are Reactors or Responders.
Whenever we experience fear, anger, frustration, or confusion we React, which causes the Reptilian to send special messages to the Mammalian who records them as a warning of potential fathom, triggering a dearth directed harvest and hording which may become massive depending upon the level of the perceived threat, which then pushes our Human buttons of attachment in the form of Control, Rejection and/or Deprivation.
However when we Respond, having taken time to consider our options and the potential consequences of our decisions, we feel safe or at least safe enough to calm the Lizard which keeps the Mammalian content as a reward and our Human part experiences being cared for and we enjoy heightened levels of Happy Juice.
The more we choose to Respond, the more control we gain over our lives and the deeper and more accessible the new neuropathways become, which begins to level the playing field between Reacting and Responding.
When we are living as Reactors we seem to be generally nervous, scattered, confused, edgy, defensive and prepared to go postal or pussy cat while we wait for permission to be Audacious. Contrast that with when we are living as Responders, empowered moment to moment, knocking on the door of The Blank Slate where all the cool stuff happens, actually actively participating in the decisions that direct our lives, while we experience a power and a satisfaction level that is truly addictive.
Pause for the cause to Respond or don’t and suffer the consequences of instinctual Reactions.
Oh, about my earlier question…”when aren’t we feeling pressured, worried, irritated or disappointed?” When we pause for the cause.