Yay! Wait, what?
Yes, that’s right! Your response-ability is your ability to respond as opposed to react, and it’s a superpower because it allows you to choose how you experience the outcome of any given situation. It provides you with a heartbeat’s space between when something happens and how you respond to it. By honing your response-ability you will change how people interact with you, the kinds of situations and energy you attract, and how you perceive the world around you. How you respond depends on you, and you can choose!
It can’t be that simple, right? It totally IS! However, it’s not easy. But you can try to think of it like this: react implies instinctual and unconscious, while response implies choice and consciousness with that choice. So, when we are reacting to something we are not fully conscious of what is driving our choices of response, but when we are responding to something we are taking that heartbeat to bring into our conscious the truth of how we’re feeling, for example sad, angry, or anxious, about the stimuli. Responding holds space for our Higher SELF to help us choose the wisest course of action with which to proceed, whereas reacting brings to a given situation the emotional memory of unconscious thoughts and feelings, which may or may not be helpful in that moment.
“But Bless, HOW?! How do I utilize this superpower to protect the world, or at the very least, mySELF?”
No worries, I’m going to break down the steps to wielding this power so that you can protect yourSELF from decisions you may regret, and protect others from your emotional reactions that, again, may lead to regretful decisions. Ready? Here we go:
Situation (i.e. stimuli): Your boss walks up to you in the breakroom at work. S/he tells you that the presentation you gave to your co-workers the day before, the same one that everyone raved about, congratulated you on and asked you to please send them a copy of your bullet points, was not actually that good. It was missing x, y, z, and it was obvious that the extra 30 hours you spent creating it was, in fact, you not putting your best foot forward. S/he then proceeds to imply your position with the company is now in question because are you even really a team player if you won’t present your best work?
(Side note: if this situation ever happens to you, I encourage you to re-evaluate if you want to or should continue to work with that company, but that’s for another blog post.)
Step 1: Take a quiet, slow, deep inhale (can be done quietly while listening to them talk).
Step 2: Then a quiet, slow, deep exhale (can be done quietly while listening to them talk).
Step 3: Smile.
Step 4: Say thank you for the feedback.
Step 5: Ask if there’s any suggestions that can be made to help you improve.
Does that sound simple? As I said above, it is! However, I encourage you to leave a comment for me after you’ve tried it to let me know if it was EASY..lol. So, what just happened? In Step 1, you gave yourSELF space to remember what is truly important, life breath. In Step 2, you gave yourSELF the opportunity to release the emotion brought on by the confrontation. In Step 3, you’re signaling to your brain that everything is ok, there’s no reason for stress or fight/flight/freeze response because you’re not under threat. In Step 4, you’re incorporating a concept of Ho’oponopono which is the understanding that all things outside of us are actually part of us and so being angry at someone else is really being angry at the unhealed part of yourSELF. And lastly, in Step 5 you’re acknowledging the need of the other person. For reasons beyond your control or understanding, this person needs to feel superior to you (and probably everyone else, too). In truth they’re not superior to you or anyone else, but it’s not your job to “teach” them that, we all learn on our own time in our own ways. But by asking if they have any suggestions for you, you’ve done two things for yourSELF:
1. Reduced the potential of future “feedback” because if you listen to their suggestions and try to incorporate some of them moving forward, you remove the teeth of the person’s argument that you’re rogue and need to be monitored or “guided”. And who knows, maybe they're suggestions can actually help!
2. You’ve given them the acknowledgement they feel they need, which is a gift for them. Think about it, most of the time they probably DON’T get what they need because of the way they approach obtaining it.
By taking a minute to respond instead of react you bought yourSELF some goodwill, time, breathing room and space.
Does this work in EVERY instance? Probably not. You will meet that person that no matter what you do they will try to push your buttons because that is their true goal. But for the most part, the majority of people simply want to feel heard and acknowledged, and so this works.
Once we can rein in our emotional reactions and turn them into conscious and measured responses, the world we’re creating for ourselves changes. We begin to send out a different energetic signature to the UnIverse that signals we’re aligning with our Higher SELF, the place where our compassion and patience reside. This superpower is so powerful that you will start see its effects on your life and relationships immediately!
There is one word of caution however..
Most relationships involve other people, right? Right. Now, I like to describe the way we interact with each other as a dance, we all dance with each other when we are arguing or talking or laughing, and so on. When we are dancing with each other, and have for a long time, the dance moves become second nature and habituated, for example we know when we’re talking with this person that “x” is the expected reaction to “y”, the old they’re just trying to “get a rise out of you” thing. Once you begin to wield your newfound superpower the dance changes, the tempo of the music speeds up or slows down, and your partner no longer knows the moves to the dance they usually do with you, and this can lead to varying reactions from them about your new rhythms. They may get angry that you’re changing the music, they may be confused about the change in tempo, they may remove themselves from the dance floor altogether because they can no longer keep up with you, or any number of other reactions. So, I would say that before you begin to truly embrace this superpower, understand that it will change you, your life, AND the lives of those around you.
I hope you’re ready. Now, go forth and be SUPER!!!