Reacting vs. Responding :: Shifting Your Perspective and Finding Gratitude

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shifting perspectiveI tend to be a person that rarely thinks before speaking. One with a “Who cares what people think of me” perspective (not proud of this), which only adds to my anxiety and leads me down a path of negativity. I have always been this way, and it can be challenging to change a thought pattern completely.

I recently met with a friend who has completely changed his mindset by reacting less, responding more, and finding gratitude in every situation. His outlook inspired me and fueled my own desire to adopt a more positive disposition. I seem to spend too much of my time in a place of worry and fear with a bit of a fight or flight mentality. If something goes wrong, like an egg breaking on the floor or running late for school, I usually react by showing negative emotion (probably swearing), creating negative energy that affects everyone around me.

You see, when you “react,” it is immediate and usually defensive and emotional. You play the victim, emit negative energy, and cortisol levels rise. When you “respond,” you are in control, calmer, and more at peace. You evaluate the facts and process the information at hand, which removes your emotional attachment to a trigger situation. 

To make the shift from reacting to responding, I am becoming more aware of what triggers me to react in the first place. This process invites awareness and brings a more mindful approach to how I relate to myself and others. Identifying my faults and making changes requires a fair amount of work, but I know the investment will be well worth it. What has helped me thus far is tapping into some coping strategies before reacting.

I’ve tried taking a breather (yes, sometimes moms need time outs, and I make sure to let my kids and husband know that). Once I have paused to collect my thoughts, I ask myself if getting angry is really worth it (does it REALLY matter if an egg broke or if we are five minutes late for a play-based preschool program? No, it doesn’t.). I then think of a calm response and how I can act to evoke love, kindness, and peace.

As I said, this does take effort, but my anxiety really has lessened with this approach. Lastly, I take a few seconds to dig deep and find gratitude in the situation. (Oh, an egg broke, that stinks, but at least we have food to eat. My daughter will be five minutes late for school, but I am so grateful she has the opportunity to learn and play with her friends). Seeking gratitude helps me to put stressful situations into perspective and find positivity. After all, there is always something to be grateful for! 

I’d love to hear how you respond to situations that may otherwise elicit a reaction. Comment below!

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Janine is a stay at home mom of four, two on earth and twins in Heaven. She grew up in Stratford, CT and now lives in Port Chester, NY. After graduating from culinary school in 2010, she went on to be an executive pastry chef, a cake designer, then a corporate sous chef in NYC. Janine started her journey to becoming a Mom following her 2012 wedding. After struggles with infertility, she and her husband turned to IVF and were blessed with identical twins. Her twin boys grew wings on 6/26/14, after being born severely premature. Overcoming the darkness of infant loss and finding a new normal were very trying. Janine and her husband welcomed a rainbow baby in August of 2015, who’s name means “pure light.” Their daughter brought so much joy and light back into their world. In November of 2017, their second rainbow and miracle, a boy, was born. Janine works very diligently, as a mother of angels, to make sure her boys are always remembered. She is a facilitator for Hope After Loss, a support group in CT for grieving parents, and honors her boys every day in special ways. Janine loves to do yoga, cook for her family (homemade baby food and all), drink wine, and is always up for a cup of coffee. She is also in the beginning phase of co-authoring a baby cookbook with a dear childhood friend, and creates custom cakes and cupcakes for special occasions. Her sweet creations can be seen on her website www.neaniecakes.com.