Respond. Don’t react.

While overthinking is my downfall (as i get lost in it, in a storm of emotions, spiraling) reflecting calmly and purposefully on a challenging aspect of my life has granted me insight and helped me devise a plan to overcome shortcomings. 

The new one on my plate is grasping the difference between reacting and responding. 

Ever since I was a kid I learned the value of self control and the power of responding with purpose versus reacting. I read a story about the chain reaction of a crowd  of people, to a cockroach in a restaurant, and the response of a composed waiter to the same cockroach. Everyone reacted emotionally. Screaming, flailing their arms and legs. But the waiter, calmly caught the cockroach and removed it from the premises. 

Despite of how the bug made him feel, he let his higher brain function control his body. Made a conscious decision to act a certain way and dealt with the situation. 

The more I let myself be swept up by emotions, reacting to my kids’ behavior, which I can justify till the cows come home, as kids are dependent on us for now and for many years to come, in different ways, financially, emotionally, socially, and they will challenge and debate, as it is healthy for them to do to grow up well rounded and brave and expressive, safe and wise, it is my job to not react but to respond. With love, patience, kindness, clarity. 

I don’t always succeed. I want to match their mood and unreasonable ways to give them a taste of medicine, but while I let that slip sometimes, my main mode of operation should continue to be the rock, the fortress, the beacon of light. The guiding star, the warm blanket, the safe haven. I am here to respond. Not to react. So help me God.