REACTION ON THE 11TH BIRTHDAY EVENING!!!

During our childhood days, being mischievous kids, me and my younger brother were both noted of doing mysterious works in our home.  And the greatest story from those memory lanes is on my 11th birthday evening when I ran away from my home.

Yes… it’s true! Keep reading to know the complete story.

It was 8th January 2000, on my 11th birthday early evening hours I was playing with an unripe Guava inside my parents’ bedroom. Suddenly the Guava slipped from my hand and hit my Mama’s dressing table mirror and the mirror broke into pieces. As a result my Mama scolded me and started throwing at me a bag of words. But from all those normal words one line was too heavy to digest – “Just wait, let your dad come from office. You will know who he is!” And it was a big bang on my head. My brain stopped working. I started thinking that today would be my last day on earth. I have to do something to hide myself from Dad. But nothing came to my mind except one – “Avinash, run away from home. It can spare you from your dad.” So, without delay I ran away from home. After sometime my Mama started searching for me everywhere but didn’t find me anywhere. Then with my uncle’s help she started searching for me in nearby areas – asking people, elaborating them my appearance but everyone’s answer was ‘No.’ Meanwhile my uncle stopped at a petrol pump to refuel his scooter and as Mama was standing outside the petrol pump looking at every nook and corner of the road for me, suddenly her eyes fell on me and she shouted ‘son… son… here I am’. When I saw her I started running in the opposite direction with fear and anxiety. But somehow my Mama caught me on the middle of the road and hugged me tightly with tears pouring down from her eyes, puffing with tight fist, and lips uttering a single word, ‘Beta… I love you. Don’t leave me. Your Mama is with you nothing is going to happen to you’.

Often when I am alone I visit my memory lanes and come across this story, it truly makes my heart heavy and head hung low with the love of my Mama. I feel ashamed of the mistake that I committed that evening. What could have happened to me, if Mama wouldn’t have found me and brought me back home! My story would have been so different than what it is today!

The above story portrays a beautiful message to about the current topic “Response over Reaction”. As you saw in my story there are couple of major reactions than responses. Firstly, my reaction after breaking the mirror was completely negative and wrong. Secondly, my mother seeking  me was absolutely a positive response on her part. That day my Mama could have done the same thing what now you and me are thinking “Slap on my face, twisting my ears and bringing back to home, teaching some more lessons” but she didn’t do that. She LOVED me in spite of my off-road work and CORRECTED me despite all odds.

Every day we come across different reactions and also give away some. Reactions will always be there consciously or unconsciously but the questions arise here are… ‘Does the story end there???’ ‘Does the other person’s heart feel comforted with our reactions or responses???’ ‘Do my responses in different reactions strengthen my relationship with him/her???’

‘Tell them the truth in love’ – The Bible

Truth is the Content and Love is the Approach! Never forget that…

Keep thinking!!! Keep discovering the answers!!!

QUIETENING POWER OF MY QUIET TIME

Man has evolved throughout the ages.  We have been governed by our emotion and instincts. While emotion can be defined as a complex set of feelings resulting in physical and psychological changes that influence our thoughts and action, instincts are results of an environmental trigger occurring in order to satisfy internal drives. It was instinct which caused man to discover fire and it was emotion that made him create and protect a family. True that his needs were what he was aiming to satisfy. Though we have learnt and unlearnt ways to combat our instincts and deal with our emotions there is a fine line where we tend to confuse between the two. We use our emotions to react to situations as though they are our instincts and continue doing so for a prolonged period till they become a way of life. This is how we acquire an identity for ourselves and get to be known by it.

I was very infamous amongst my family and friends regarding my vicious anger. Most people haven’t seen me in this manner but my close ones have already borne the brunt of it. Such was my all-consuming anger that it was unable for a person to be around me when I was in that frame of mine. I would become spiteful and would end up hurting people with the most savage words. I had frequent fights with family and friends and after which I had a tendency to build up a wall around me, cutting people off and refusing to communicate. If you have known me as a person you would feel how different it is from the person who I am. Yes these bouts of anger happened almost twice a year but throughout I used to react offensively to situations. I reacted and overreacted, overthought about how I reacted and felt terrible, down and disgusting. It was these people who loved me to the core and would never think of abandoning me and I hurt them.

While I was in this frame of mind I thought whatever I was doing this was the only way of asserting me. There was no way I could make people understand my point of view. I was breaking under stressful conditions in the professional arena and hell broke loose in my personal sphere of friends as well. It was only because of the fact that I had begun to idolize myself. Therefore how other behaved in front of me used to be of first priority. I sought to be impressed by others around me. I thought if this particular person offended me it has to be the end of him/her in my life. I wasn’t responding, just reacting.

But the end of my foul behaviour had to come. I had the ugliest of fights at home at the end of 2016 on a petty issue where I thought I have been disappointed in my own family. Terrible thought, isn’t it? I too lost a couple of friends. It dawned that I had been going on offending people, depressing them, hurting them. I was crest-fallen. A throbbing pain shot through as I realized my position. I cried nights in repentance. I had a sort of epiphany back then where I realized the real source of the troubles. It was the absence of quiet-time in my life. I was so engaged with other things even spending my leisure time watching television and surfing the net that I had completely lost the time of meditating and introspection. I wasn’t reflecting on who I am becoming and thus the change of course.

This quiet-time that I am talking about is an evangelical term which we use in our community to introspect about the kind of person I am and how do I strive to be better with people around us. This is an individual session where we meditate, reflect and pray about our shortcomings and positives. The quiet-time proved to be really beneficial to me as it was informative. It made me learn about the various ways in which I can view myself and others around me. It encouraged me when I was crestfallen and strengthened me to face difficult situations with vigour and zeal. I learnt to attach less importance to my being and tried to consider others equal to me. There are still moments of misgivings but you know, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.

My quiet-time really helped me a lot and gradually I am learning not to react in situations rather being resilient is what I would like to focus on. There are a lot of dynamics involved though as understanding and accepting the perspectives of people while maintaining your own without asserting yourself is not a cakewalk. Therefore in moments like these I remind myself of the quote I once read: “Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future”.

ARE YOUR EMOTIONS RUNNING THE SHOW ?

Six months ago….

After a long day at work, I was waiting for my manager in his cabin. It was 8.10 PM and I was in a mood to close the 1-1 as soon as possible with him and get back home.

He came in, was quite serious. “You seem to have lost your rhythm at work. You have grown to be irresponsible. You haven’t been concentrating on the quality and there is no transparency with you. I am forced to question your dedication, commitment and your willingness to work along with this team. I was not expecting this from you.” – This was only the gist of what he said. It was one-sided conversation for more than 40 minutes, all of it in negative and I did not utter a word in-between.

By the end of the conversation I was feeling as if I am dead and strongly felt the need to introspect. If my manager is saying all this, there must be a reason. I couldn’t sleep the entire night; this is the first ever time he has displayed disappointment. In fact, the very first time anyone has, in my entire career. I was very upset with myself.

After a couple of days of this conversation, I was at home when my phone rang – my manager. It was almost 10 PM and I wondered what complaints he has at this hour of the day, “Please, not again!” was my thought.

“I am sorry Aastha. I am quite disturbed from the day we had our 1-1. I am very sorry for all that I said. Can we meet for lunch tomorrow?”, said he. I agreed.

Our conversation during lunch the next day:

Him: “I didn’t mean to hurt you or I never meant anything of what I said. I tried to irritate you a lot during our last 1-1 and it was deliberate. I was studying your facial expressions and expected you to react and at least defend yourself. Why didn’t you react?”

Me: “You were giving me feedback. Either you learnt about me from someone or you have observed the change in me over time. Negative feedback isn’t bad.”

Him:  “You weren’t even angry. I could guess you were upset, but that’s all. I am actually confused now.”

Me: “What is that you are confused about?”

Him:  “If the same would have happened between you and your Architect?”

Me: “Now, I understand where you are coming from. I would react and I have reacted too”

Him:  “Why didn’t you react in the conversation between us?”

Me: “That’s because I respect your opinion”

Him: “You came and told me that you lost your temper. I also got to know that you apologized to your architect for the same, but I fail to understand why is it that you cannot handle him ? You are quite balanced, this is surprising to me.”

This conversation triggered a lot of thoughts in me. Yes, I do agree that I lost it, lost it completely. I have been listening to continuous blames and taking a lot of insult. This wasn’t in a closed room or a face to face discussion, but a lot of people were involved. Lack of trust can piss off anyone and so was it with me. A fine mix of all of these feelings boxed in me over a period of time result in the ‘REACTION’. I was not happy with myself, but what’s wrong with me ?

If we observe carefully, very often it is the person or the place more than what he/she said. Either we love the other person and weren’t expecting such statements or we dislike the other person and cannot stand what he/she said. If it’s a public place, that’s worse. In either of these situations, we are on extremes. Because in ‘that moment’ our response has nothing to do with logic, understanding or intelligence and everything to do with emotion (insecurity, anger, fear, resentment). We don’t actually think, consider or plan, we just react. When our emotions are so deep rooted it is hard to not react. It takes time to gain willful control over our emotions and more importantly holding on to the impulse to not react.

“What made me react ?” –  This is the very first question we should be asking ourselves when we realise we reacted. Once we know the why’s that have been controlling our emotions, it is easier to handle them. Find out your why’s, that’s the key !!

I asked myself if there is anything I can do to make the situation better ? Once I realised that my architect is hopeless, I gave up on him. I barely talk with him, I don’t find it very necessary because it is impacting me in negative ways. My life at work is more sorted out now and to my surprise my architect came back to me asking, “Why haven’t you been voicing out your opinion, you should”. I know his intentions, and I am not gonna fall prey again …

Let’s be a little honest here, even after we react, we try to handle the situation by responding. Because a thoughtful response is the only way to make things better. As we learn this, we would tend to prefer responding than reacting.

​RESPOND BEFORE YOU THINK OF REACTING

Parenting is an ongoing challenge, a learning every day. Right after my elder son turned 2, my voice became high-pitched. No matter how much you try, kids DO NOT listen to you until you shout. Having an experience of teaching pre-primary children for over 3 years, and having professional qualification in Pre-Primary Education, I am quite aware of the behavioural and temperamental issues of the kids. But, when it comes to your own child, I feel all the experience and studies go down the drain. So, basically from the terrible 2 to fiery 5, like most of the mommies, I feel myself doing herculean tasks every now and then, especially after having my second baby.

It was one of those days when I was sleep deprived, physically exhausted and mentally strained. I decided to go outside for a walk in the fresh air, along with kids. I just fixed up my all-the-time-messy hair slightly and was applying lip balm on my chapped lips, when my 5-year-old said, “Mumma, make-up isn’t necessary, we aren’t going for a party”. Lo and behold! I just lost my control and slapped him, thinking that how dare the little kid even say a thing like this to me. Shouts and cries followed a few moments and then finally we went out. I realised how badly I had reacted. I could have told my son about the difference between getting ready for a party and getting ready to step out of the house. But, I used the short-cut and lost my temper. Whenever I behave this way, I repent and shed silent tears. Immediately afterwards, I apologise to my son and tell him that I love him. And like every little child, he behaves as if nothing has happened, because of his unconditional love. 

It is very easy to vent out your anger on to your children. All the stress, both physical and mental, primarily releases on the kids most of the time, which is wrong. I agree that little kids drive you crazy and you go bonkers due to their obstinate nature and never-ending demands. But, we need to understand that they are kids after all and hence cannot behave like adults. Patience is the key, I know it is a bit tricky, but then reacting instead of responding isn’t going to make things better. Kids need your time and attention, so listen to them and respond before you think of reacting.

REACT AND REPENT; RESPOND AND REJOICE

The Golden Rule says – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

That means, that we should treat others the way we want to be treated by them.

Now, most of us want to be treated with love, kindness and respect. But that’s not exactly what we give back each time we interact with people. For example, when we have an altercation with someone, there are times when our behaviour becomes adversarial, our tone sharp, we may become offensive or defensive, and in the heat of the moment we may end up doing something that we otherwise may not have done. We do this because we’re angry, we feel threatened, hurt, upset or even irritated. So, instead of responding in a situation, we often react instead, and then repent later.

Wait… what? Are reacting and responding two different things?

Absolutely!

For example, if someone accuses you of something, your first line of action is generally to react by denying and then saying something harsh to the one who’s accusing you. That’s called a Reaction. What happens next is, both you and the accuser get into a verbal showdown, which leaves bitterness between two people, sometimes for years to come.

But the alternative to this problem is that you calm yourself first, understand why the accuser is saying such things, talk to the accuser calmly and try to reason out with him. This is a Response. In this situation, what may happen is that the accuser may calm down himself and actually listen to you, instead of being aggressive. You two may part ways on good terms and may even become the best of buds!

So, which scenario would you prefer? I think all of us can agree that the second is more agreeable, right?

But wait, who am I to sermonize over what you ought to do?

There’s an idiom that says – once bitten, twice shy.

I’ll give you an example from my own life and maybe then you’ll realise why Responding to a situation is better than Reacting.

I was best friends with a very loving, kind, funny and bright girl when I was in college. We got on famously right from the start and had even moved in together so we could spend the last year of college in each other’s happy company. She was like a Sister to me and I loved her a lot. And I suspect I meant the same to her too.

Then came a time when a very trivial and stupid misunderstanding between her and a mutual friend ripped us apart. I stood by her but at the same time I was torn between protecting her and defending the mutual friend, who had actually meant no harm. It was a misunderstanding, plain and simple, but she wasn’t able to see that. She instead accused me of being unfaithful and being a backstabber. Those words hurt me a lot and I put on my defensive armour and started accusing her of being blind and unreasonable.

The end result was, I ended up moving out of the shared flat; we stopped talking to each other; we stopped hanging out in the same circles, and even though both of us realized that we were being stupid, the harsh words we’d spoken to each other prevented us from ever getting back to the same plane that we shared. We weren’t really mad at each other, we were ashamed of saying such things to each other. But inspite of being ashamed, the chasm that had opened up between us was beyond repair. It was now about our bruised egos.

Friends tried to patch us up, including that mutual friend, but we were hurting too much. It still hurts, because she was the only one in my life who came close to being the ‘One’ best friend that we all seek in life.

What I did wrong was that I reacted, instead of responding. I didn’t try to reason with her, I didn’t try to understand where her accusations were coming from, I didn’t try to calm us down. I just chose to blindly speak my mind and cause her as much hurt as she had caused me by her words. I wanted revenge at the time.

But now I repent…

If I could turn back time, I would have done things a lot differently. We would have still been BFF’s, still graduated together, still gossiped about our love lives, still attended each other’s marriages and been privy to each other’s deepest secrets. But all that ended in one, hasty, angry evening.

I know it’s difficult keeping a level head when we face adversity. And sometimes, some situations just demand us to give tit for tat. But in the majority of situations, escalation of tension can be avoided if we remain calm and try to give a measured response to the instigator.

When we measure what we say, we are attempting to avoid bitterness and embrace compassion instead; we are making an attempt at being a better human being. And isn’t that the biggest lesson of life – to be a better human being? Isn’t that what the Golden rule I mentioned above all about?

So, the next time when you’re faced with a situation where you’re cornered and the adrenaline in you is screaming at you to lash out, tell yourself –

React and Repent; Respond and Rejoice!

I’ll leave you on that positive note and Kabir Das’ apt doha

ऐसी वाणी बोलिए, मन का आपा खोय। 
औरन को सीतल करे, आपहुं सीतल होय॥

(Speak words devoid of ego and harm, Words that calm them down, Words that calm you down.)

 

With Love,

Pradita Kapahi

Own Blog – “The Pradita Chronicles”

3 TIPS TO RESPOND TO CRUCIAL SITUATIONS

Life never follows a straight road. It always surprises us with unseen bends around the corners and sometimes it’s a steep climb up-hill whilst other times it’s a comfortable descent along a gentle slope. The fact of the matter is we are faced with different situations which are often difficult and it’s the manner of our response or reaction to these circumstances, which define us and our journey on the road of life.

Mr. Richard was a very dedicated and loving father to his young son, Ryan.  He cared for him and tried to provide him the best of everything. But sometimes he could be single-minded, apprehensive, and stubborn having the notion that he always knew what’s best for his kid.  As Ryan grew up and entered his teen years he desired to be more independent especially in his choice of friends. It was a typical feeling a teenager experiences, but Mr. Richard always tried to keep a tab on who Ryan’s friends were and Ryan did not like this.

There was this female friend Ryan had a crush on. And one morning when Ryan had gone for a walk he saw her in the park. After exchanging greetings he sat down next to her on the bench for a casual talk. As he was talking, his father walked into the park and Ryan had no clue. Mr. Richard saw his son with a girl and he looked at Ryan with a scowl. Ryan seeing him quickly got up and moved away from his friend. He did not know how to react or what to do as his father walked away in anger.

It turned out to be a very awkward situation at home between Ryan and his dad.  An ill-tempered Mr. Richard decided that Ryan would not be allowed to meet or talk to his female companion, and Ryan could not offer any sort of explanation to his ill-tempered dad and started resenting him. The father and the son grew emotionally distant from each other due to this simple yet impactful incident.

What went wrong between Mr. Richard and Ryan?

Mr. Richard did not give a chance to Ryan to express his point. Perhaps if he had known before how Ryan wants a bit of independence when making friends he would not have “reacted” with such impetuosity. Had Ryan gained the confidence in his father that he could express himself to him without being judged he would have found himself a very good friend in his dad and their bond would have grown so much stronger.

Sometimes it’s very easy to lose someone we love just because of the way we react under critical situations involving them.  In the above scenario, Mr. Richard could have been a good listener and have an open-mind towards how his son felt. He could have calmly talked about the issue with his son instead of acting impulsively distancing his son.  Being the one with more wisdom, he probably should have realized that he was overreacting and his son needed to be guided instead of being kept on a tight leash.

I would like to mention three tips which would help to respond to crucial situations.

  1. Never say things when you are angry. It’s a knee-jerk reaction and therefore can be very dangerous. Anger simply aggravates the situation even if we don’t intend to do so. Always try to calm down and then talk about the matter with the concerned person.
  2. Try to listen to both sides of the coin. Always give a chance for the other person to tell his or her side of the story. It helps us to keep things in perspective and respond in a much better way.
  3. At times we have to let go of our prejudiced notions and be a little more open-minded to understand people better. It helps in nurturing a relationship.

So, let’s keep these points in mind make the right choice of responding to a situation positively and not let it harm us but to help us to grow into better versions of ourselves.

5 FACTORS TO DETERMINE RESPONSE IS BENEFICIAL THAN REACTION

Reactions are instant, impulsive and emotional. But responses are planned and well foresighted. Responses are more constructive than reactions. Uncle Google somewhat agreed to my definition.

Uncle Google differentiates reaction & response  as under –

 

There is a huge difference between reacting and responding. A reaction is typically quick, without much thought, tense and aggressive. A response is thought out, calm and non-threatening. A reaction typically provokes more reactions – perpetuating a long line of hatefulness with nothing accomplished.

I was just thinking about our day to day behaviors and dealings with our family members, the people in our communities or at our work places. In all our dealings emotions play a bigger role in the way we react to different people and situations. And these reactions are shown non-verbally or verbally depending upon our guts. For example, when our boss in the office scolds us in fronts of others our face hangs down in embarrassment or in anger. This is non-verbal reactions to a person or the situation. But when a colleague scolds us or misbehaves with us we talk back or shout back at him/her. That will be considered as our verbal reactions to the situations or to the people.

The important fact is our reactions are mostly negative and begets more negative situations or reactions as the Uncle Google explained it in his definition mentioned above.

Psychology today defines reactions like this:

 

A reaction is instant. It’s driven by the beliefs, biases, and prejudices of the unconsciousmind. When you say or do something “without thinking,” that’s the unconscious mind running the show. A reaction is based in the moment and doesn’t take into consideration long term effects of what you do or say. A reaction is survival-oriented and on some level a defense mechanism. It might turn out okay but often a reaction is something you regret later.

The Bible says,

 

<

p style=”text-align:justify;”>A soft and gentle and thoughtful answer turns away wrath,
But harsh and painful and careless words stir up anger.

Watch the above words carefully… SoftGentle and Thoughtful. The word ‘thoughtful’ makes it clear that the answer would be well planned, positive and slow. That is why the impact was greater, positive and beneficial: turns away wrath.

Whereas words like, HarshPainful and Careless are usually spoken in haste and without thinking even twice. This hastiness is our reactions which beget more negativities: stirs up anger, whereas a thoughtful answer is a well-constructed response.

Again I would like to quote that article on Psychology Today:

 

A response on the other hand usually comes more slowly. It’s based on information from both the conscious mind and unconscious mind. A response will be more “ecological,” meaning that it takes into consideration the well-being of not only you but those around you. It weighs the long term effects and stays in line with your core values.

Really loved the differentiation of response and reaction explained in the above article.

I would like to explain 5 valid factors that determine why we should choose Response over Reactions. They are as follows:

 

Time Taken: Reactions are hasty; Responses are slow and time-taking. Hastiness is a sign of immaturity whereas  matured people always take time to decide and take their steps.

 

Goal Oriented: Reactions are erratic; Responses are well directed keeping the bigger picture in mind. We all know well directed and well aimed at are usually bring results. When we realize how this specific situation fits into our overall goals and objectives it will be easier to respond aiming at the goals.

 

End Results: Reactions provokes more negativity; Responses are positively impacting. Reactions usually bring about more negativity and worsen the relationships, situations etc. But responses usually impacts positively. We have already analysed how harsh words stir up anger etc.

 

Self or Others: Reactions are self-centered; Responses are wholesome and beneficial for all. Reactions precede from our subconscious self and very harmful. They come out without our notice and without a thought. Reactions are very self-centered. Whereas responses are beneficial to self and to others as well. Responses are always compassionate and kind to all, Self and Others.

 

Closed or Open: Reactions are narrow; Responses are open with more choices to choose. Reactions come when we don’t know or think we don’t have any other options than just behaving in a certain way towards the person or situation. But when we realize that we always have choices, we consider them with a response before moving forward with our reactions.

Whether we are at our workplaces dealing with our colleagues, bosses or any situations, whether we are in a family situation with our loved ones around us we should always be careful about our reactions which really don’t help. Always giving time to ourselves will help us to respond.

Let’s choose response over reaction from now on and measure the benefits in our life. 

Stay Blessed!!!