Updated: Jun 20
React versus Respond are vastly connected to one another. These two words mean to answer or to come back to a question or comment made directly or indirectly toward an individual or group. Usually, it’s an answer to a question. But sometimes it’s a bit more complicated than that. At least, it has the potential to be, depending on the way the individual or group chooses to answer.
It's easy to believe that these words are synonymous with themselves, and generally, that is correct. But I dare to examine the words a bit more and I ask that you bear with me in this exploration as it proves to be quite interesting.
I have “reacted” in response to questions, comments, and even criticisms, I believed, with the answers that the calls warranted. My family members called asking for money, I obliged – even when I knew the money would never be returned, regardless of the empty promises. And when the promise was unfulfilled, I’d react by saying, “I knew it! Never again!” I would be pissed off! I even vented to confidants about it. I’m sure someone reading this can relate.
Now, even though I perceived the outcome accurately, my impulse has always been to help family or loved ones in need. It’s a natural “reaction” for me. However, I realized that my impulsiveness to come to the aid of those who express 'need' has often left ME out on a limb. The promise of returning the favor is easily broken when I become the one in 'need' by those who were supposed to be dependable.
I learned my lesson. The most effective in the grand scheme of things was to react to those in need. I genuinely enjoy helping people, but I was perplexed. The revelation came when I realized that I can be a greater help by the way I responded. By telling them I can’t help them! Like, how is that even possible? That sounds impossible! But it is an immutable fact!
Here's proof. The same loved one that I had always been an aid to – and had always been disappointed by – had asked for a “favor” – yet again. Only, this time, I took the moment after hearing the sob story, and instead of impulsively reacting by giving in to the favor (monetary amount requested), I asked how the situation came to be. I deduced that if I reacted by coming to their rescue, they would not be able to independently resolve the situation on their own. Once I looked at the situation from a logical point of view and refrained from doing what my first impulse was – to use my heart and emotions as the guide to my behavior - but think, and logically see the big picture (which wasn’t so big, after all) – my response was simply, “I know it seems crazy to you right now, but you’ll figure it out.” While the response was unexpected and probably wasn’t received well initially, it allowed several things to happen as a result.
First, it caused the loved one to be more independent and creative with how to resolve their issue. It also may have sparked the awareness of the need to stop getting into those types of situations. In addition, it allowed me to become stress-free by lamenting over whether I would receive a return on what I loaned them. Overall, responding instead of reacting produces more melodiousness if not self-awareness than misery.
When we react to anything it’s usually impulsive and even sometimes defensive. A reaction is usually something that is not thought out and is not planned. Regardless of the consequences and often without regard to being composed or tactful. Reactions are emotion driven. When we react it’s more so a comeback or rebuttal rather than a thought-out and planned response. In fact, it is planning and thinking, reasoning, and evaluating that makes responding different from reacting. When we assess something that was said and remove emotions and reason logically, we can form a concise and effective response.
Oftentimes our response will invoke positive and good emotions as opposed to our emotions guiding the response.
I’m Essence and I want to encourage you. Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Even more importantly, let’s not allow our emotions to tell us how to re-act. Otherwise, we could wind up being a 50-year-old fifteen-year-old! If you didn’t catch that just now, you’re probably going to catch that later. LOL
About the Author
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Robin Holmes began writing creatively at the age of eight. She loved the written word so much; she was deemed a “nerd” by her peers. In the 5th grade, her work was published locally. Her love for writing evolved with poems, rhyming words to lyrics, and original + popular songs.
Although, life forced her to put it on the back burner for some time. She never lost her love for the craft. A single mom at 21 years old, she continued to do the work that was necessary to enforce positive change in her and her daughter's life. After moving Upstate, NY in 2002 she began a new chapter in her life. It was a pivot that changed her.
She had a child, worked with children,
and that introduced her to another passion. Educating prompted her to further HER education. So, she returned to Brooklyn in 2008. After losing her dad in 2010, she later gave birth to her son in 2013. Ms. Holmes received her Bachelor of Social Sciences degree in 2017. This helped her rediscover her passion for writing after successfully completing this milestone.
Sadly, after losing a coworker Virginia Monger, coauthor of Nia’s Sick Sense, a series of works were born. She wrote more about adolescents. And because she watched the process of Nia’s creation, and losing someone so dear to her tragically it sparked her passion and drive for her to…
“Get back out there."
The pseudonym “Essence” is a name given to Ms. Holmes by yet another loved one that she lost. She uses it in honor of herself and how much she meant to her.
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