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”.

​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.

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!!!