Reactive vs responsive - reframing situations and mindset


This is a concept absolutely vital to stress and our nervous system

It describes the way we react to challenges in life, and ties into our nervous system - whether we activate the fight or flight (sympathetic) pathway vs the parasympathetic (rest, relax) pathway

It may seem simple, but it's at the heart of so much stress and unhappiness, and turning it around can be powerful


Reactive = the kneejerk negative reaction you get in response to a stress - this is often unconscious, and tends to trigger a feeling of stress, anger, frustration, or lack of control. We are naturally hardwired to do this as a protective response (think running away from a tiger when we hear a noise), yet if its repetitive it can create a cycle of miscommunication, tension, and unhappy relationships


Responsive = recognising when our reactions are negative and harmful, acknowledging them (not ignoring), then reframing them to create a sense of happiness, calm, or gratitude

Science shows the brain can literally be rewired through specific techniques, meaning over time we are more in the responsive mode, and less in reactive - leading to a calmer, peaceful, more productive, and more satisfying life

It's like fitness for your mind!


It was my one full day off work this week, and as usual I had lots to do. As it got near school pickup time, I started to feel frustrated that I hadn't achieved everything (hello overambitious plans ). Then I had a strong head wind biking to school (I hate wind) and started to worry I'd be late

By reframing this however, I moved from reactive to responsive, and arrived happy and calm, rather than stressed and grumpy. I did this by focusing on being happy I could spend the afternoon with my kids (jobs can wait), that it was sunny, and that I was able to bike to pick them up These three simple thoughts literally reversed my frame of mind and the associated stress!!



Simple ways to move from reactive to responsive include : - gratitude practicing - mindfulness - slow deep breathing - grounding (noticing 5 things around you you can see or hear and focusing on these)

It can change your life

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