For some reason, those two words feel very differently to me. So I checked in with Merriam Webster to see what the distinction might be. I guess the difference is mainly that a response, as an action, is neutral but a reaction can be positive or negative. I don’t know. What do you think?
Definition of reaction
1a: the act or process or an instance of reacting
b: resistance or opposition to a force, influence, or movement especially : tendency toward a former and usually outmoded political or social order or policy
2: a response to some treatment, situation, or stimulus her stunned reaction to the news also: such a response expressed verbally critical reaction to the play
Definition of response
1: an act of responding
2: something constituting a reply or a reaction: such as
a: a verse, phrase, or word sung or said by the people or choir after or in reply to the officiant in a liturgical service
b: the activity or inhibition of previous activity of an organism or any of its parts resulting from stimulation
c: the output of a transducer or detecting device resulting from a given input
How do you respond to situations? What is your tendency? Do you rush to judgment? Collect the facts first? Are you willing to hear everyone out? Are you a “reactor” or a “responder”?
Of course, it all depends on the situation. Some do call for quick action. But for normal, everyday things that happen, do you have a tendency to be negative about whatever you are facing?
And are you happy with it?
Training ourselves to respond calmly to situations is important. Paying attention to the words that come out of our mouths is important. Along with that, habits like eye-rolling, heavy sighing, foot stomping, door slamming, needing to have the last word, and low-register grumbling are just as important to gain control of.
Here is a challenge for both you and me:
Let’s spend the next 24 hours without uttering a complaint. Will life be all rosy and full of tulips and puppy kisses? I doubt it. But we can still spend 24 hours not verbally complaining. If you really need to “complain”, write it down in a notebook and in 24 hours decide if you still need to present the complaint.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] [Philippians 2: 14-15, NIV]
Blessings to you as you consider reactions and responses!
2 thoughts on “Reaction vs. Response”
Thanks for this message. It is truly important for one’s mental health to reduce stress, and to think clearly. When you can think clearly, mini-miracles can happen. What I love is the unconscious reaction the brain does in times of crisis or need (and not surprisingly, does the right thing), and we move without thinking. It’s the Autopilot within us, and it can be amazing. Maybe it’s God within us, speaking and acting automatically. I love when that happens. And I never apologize for my human-ness. It’s all good, and forgotten in an instant. Have a wonderful day!! ♥️
Thanks for your thoughts! I agree! And definitely — lowering stress is a super important by-product to getting responses/reactions under control!