Stop Reacting and Start Responding

CEO and Founder of Shawn McIntyre Fitness
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

True comes from listening to your whole self.

Of course, when you’re talking about , listening becomes a lot easier -- that ache in your left knee is hard to ignore. Emotions, on the other hand, are a little trickier. Somewhere along the line, you started labeling events as “good” or “bad” and constructing predetermined responses to both.

Related: A Simple Solution to Taking Things Personally and Overreacting

Virtually all of your thoughts and feelings are conditioned responses to past experiences. It’s a normal strategy for dealing with new opportunities. But if your strategy is flawed, you’ll continue to get low returns on your efforts -- both in your personal and professional lives.

Eventually, something will pop up and push you out of your comfort zone. If you don’t have a strategy to deal with new challenges, it won’t be long before you buckle under the pressure.

Stop reacting and start responding. Being able to respond with a clear head is extremely important in business, especially in the early stages. For example, I once lost a multimillion-dollar business deal because I couldn’t let go of my past failures. I was reacting based on the past, and as a result, I soured a promising deal.

Each day is filled with decisions that shape the future of your company. When you react to life, you’re acting from either memory or old habits. But to build a successful enterprise, you need to be ready to respond calmly and rationally.

Responding means observing with intensity and awareness. It means not jumping to conclusions, seeing the situation from every angle and accepting that your opinion may not be the only one or even the best one. The more you listen to yourself, the easier it will become to pinpoint your old conditioned reactions. As the feelings occur, you can create new responses and let the faulty reactions fade away.

Revamping your response mechanism will afford you many benefits. According to the American Psychological Association, a healthy mental state can help improve your overall health, preserve your immune system and reduce the risk for and heart disease. And with a clear mind, you’ll be able to confidently make the best decisions for your growing venture.

Related: How Successful People Stay Calm

However, making the shift from reacting to responding takes emotional intelligence and patience. Here are a few strategies to get you started:

1. Collect yourself.

Before reacting, pause and allow your initial emotional reaction to pass. Then address the opportunity again, and see how you respond differently. Repeat this process, giving yourself time to work through your old conditioning. Consider going for a drive. This will give you time to relax and settle your thoughts.

2. Tune in to your feelings.

Clarity is tough when you’re under pressure, so never make an important decision when you’re feeling anxious. If you’re not physically or emotionally up to the task, put off making a move until you’re in the right state of mind.

3. Move around.

A health break never fails. Besides giving you time to think, physical activity helps dispel that anxious energy. In fact, studies show that college students who engage in weekly have reduced feelings of hopelessness, depression and suicide. I like to go to the gym, put on my headphones and just give myself time to not think about life’s challenges. This creates solutions from a clean sheet, rather than inside the problem.

Life is a series of events and experiences. Each one is an opportunity to grow and become a better person. So take on each challenge with fresh eyes. Reacting in the same way to new experiences won’t get you where you want to be personally or professionally.

Related: How Knowing Yourself Leads to More Productivity and Efficiency

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