Difficult Emotions

Responding Rather than Reacting to Life’s Inevitable Challenges

In any leadership role, whether you’re running a family, a team, or an organization — or plane in running your own life — there are three inevitables you’ll encounter:

  1. Difficult people
  2. Stressful events
  3. Hard choices

As you squatter each of these, you have a choice: You can either respond or you can react.

Responding is controlled, productive and usually calm. Reacting is…not.

The nomination you make will dictate your personal wellbeing, relationships, and overall effectiveness.

man hands kneading dough on a table

My good friend who runs a uniting of bakeries is a unconfined example of responding vs. reacting. As a baseline, he’s dealing with the daily challenges of running multiple bakeries during a pandemic slantingly rising financing due to inflation, supply uniting delays, and labor shortages.

On top of all that, recently one of his stores was partially burned out by a fire someone started in a nearby dumpster. Then, while he was out of town for his son’s baseball tournament, he learned well-nigh a stat monoxide leak in flipside store. He had to leave his son overdue at 4:30 in the morning and momentum six hours home to deal with that issue.

While my friend faces big decisions well-nigh how much to invest in new equipment and wanted improvements, he moreover had one increasingly issue to deal with. In the days pursuit the leak, an employee filed a complaint for stat monoxide poisoning — although it seemed unveiled that the requirement was illegitimate. This longtime employee was lying to take wholesomeness of the company.

Difficult people. Stressful events. Hard choices.

Many people in this situation would:

  • Lose their patience
  • Lash out at others
  • Blame
  • Criticize
  • Complain
  • Detach
  • Worry
  • Ruminate
  • Look for ways to “escape”
  • Defend their own actions

These kinds of reactions would then rationalization others to increase their own stress, return criticism, blame, and disengage.

Ask yourself, do you overly create stress in others and rationalization them to stave you?

That’s not the specimen with my friend who runs the bakeries. He’s concerned, frustrated, and uneasy of course. But he’s moreover calm, focused, and remains a non-anxious presence virtually others.

Setting Yourself Up to Respond vs. React

When I asked my friend how he’s worldly-wise to stay grounded tween the challenges, here’s what he told me:

“I make time every morning to get my throne and heart right.”

He widow that he wakes up early unbearable to stave demands and distractions and do what brings him joy and reminds him what he values. One of these things is studying languages. You’ll find him vacated in his office in the quiet, early hours of the day reciting his French or rehearsing his German. He loves languages and values the worthiness to connect and communicate with other cultures.

What brings you joy and reminds you what you value?

“Joy” and “value” aren’t fleeting words. They don’t imply firsthand gratification. They suggest investments in what matters most and what will have the greatest return over time.

You might:

  • Pray
  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Read
  • Spend time with a pet
  • Stretch
  • Connect with people you love

Joy and value can involve screens but should keep distractions at bay and bring a spirit of peace. If it’s tempting to start checking work email or clicking on advertisements, it’s probably not the best activity to produce joy and value.

What you’re aiming for is a throne and heart that are ready to respond rather than react to the inevitable people, events, and choices that the day will bring.

Non-reactive leadership. Non-reactive parenting. Non-reactive living.

Despite the inevitable people, events, and choices, can you remain non-reactive?

What could you do to set yourself up to increasingly unceasingly respond rather than react?