Reacting Vs Responding: How To Respond Not React

When was the last time you reacted instantly in a difficult situation and immediately regretted what you said or did? If you’re like most of us, something probably comes to mind right away. If you’d like to learn how to stop this practice and instead learn how to respond not react, you’ve come to the right place! We’re going to talk all about reacting vs responding, how not to react when something triggers you, and go over a few common ways this shows up in life.

Reacting vs Responding – What is the Difference?

Instinctively, you probably know the difference between reacting and responding. Here’s some more detail on what it means:


On a basic level, reacting is a knee-jerk reaction to something. You see or hear something, and before you’ve even had a chance to consciously think about your next steps, you’ve reacted. Reacting can cause you to say and do things you didn’t really want to say or do. Do you ever look back and wish you hadn’t said or done something? If so, you probably reacted. While hindsight is always 20/20, there is another way to act, and that is responding.


Responding is a more thoughtful approach to your actions. When responding, you don’t immediately jump in and speak out, or take action when you see or hear something. Instead, you take a pause and deliberately think before acting. While responding doesn’t mean you’ll always say the right thing and never look back and wish you’d acted differently, it does mean that you will be less likely to regret your actions.

Respond Don’t React – Why Does it Matter?

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You may be wondering, why does any of this matter? Well, as we’ll discuss below, you’ll face challenging situations in life all the time. From relationship issues to career decisions to your finances, you’re bound to encounter a problem that you can either react to or respond to. If you respond instead of reacting, you’re more likely to look back on your actions and not have any regrets.

How to Respond Not React in Four Steps

Remember, you can’t just read these steps once and magically implement them in all situations. It takes some practice to get the hang of it, but in time, you definitely will! This four-step process of responding doesn’t take much more time than reacting. In fact, it’s all internal and takes just a split second or so. Nobody else will even notice what you’re doing! It’s like a secret skill to add to your mental health toolbox.

1. Gain Awareness of What Has Happened

Before you even utter a word, make a move, or act, the primary step is to be aware of the situation. Gaining awareness is all about mindfulness. What is mindfulness? Essentially, it means being aware of the present moment. It involves paying attention to things that trigger you and stopping yourself from acting on that trigger. Mindfulness is a practice. It’s more of a state of being than an action you take. It can be cultivated over time, and the more you practice this, the better you will get at gaining awareness. Then, you can move on to the second step – pausing before taking any action.

2. The Key to Mastering How to Respond Not React: Take a Pause

Once you’ve gained awareness of any situation, in order to respond not react, you must pause. It doesn’t even have to be long, but you must consciously pause and let your immediate reaction pass. The easiest way to do this, especially as you develop your new responding practice, is to take a breath (or a few). Breathing is an effective way to bring yourself back to the moment, take a pause, and prep yourself for the next step.

3. Consider Possible Responses

After becoming aware of your trigger and stopping yourself from reacting, it’s time to decide how you want to respond. Unlike reacting, responding is a conscious choice. You consider your next steps or your next words. Just like the pause, it doesn’t have to take much time. You can go through a few responses in your head, or perhaps you will just know the right one because the pause was all you needed. Either way, consider how you want to respond.

4. Act on What Feels Right to You

The final step is to do what feels right. How do you want to show up? How do you want to act? What response will make you feel good about yourself? That’s the goal of responding. By choosing your response and not acting on impulse or reaction, no matter the outcome, you’ll know that you took a moment to choose your action and that will always feel better than reacting without thinking. Does learning how to respond not react mean you’ll always say or do the right thing? Mastering these steps doesn’t mean you will always have the “perfect” response in every situation. But, it will guarantee that you will have a more thoughtful response and one that you will be satisfied with more often than not.

Learning How to Respond not React is Key to Living Your Best Life!

A simple mindset shift, like how to respond not react, can really be a game-changer in your relationships, your career, and your finances. By implementing this small change, you’ll start to see improvements in every aspect of your life. Remember, respond don’t react!

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Published by SULV Foundation

Build and Repeat is our Mission and Purpose, we strive to make the world a better place while creating inter-generational wealth.

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