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Respond, Don't React

I've learned the hard way that no amount of routine, plans, or Google Calendaring will ever stop life from throwing unexpected challenges my way.  It took me a long time to learn how to handle life's daily challenges in a healthy way; and let's be real, I'm still working on it. 

There's one "spiritual tool" in my personal toolbox that I find myself returning to time and again, and that's the Buddhist concept of  responding vs. reacting. When we are faced with a difficult situation (a tantrum-ing child, a rude stranger in the street, an unfair boss, a grumpy partner, etc.), there is always an immediate emotional reaction that fires up inside of us. One that makes us want to say hurtful things or lose our temper or even just shut down completely. 

But instead, if we can learn to breathe through the discomfort of that initial reaction and - here's the key - wait for it to pass before taking action, then my friends...there's a kind of magic that happens. Those mean words that we were SO convinced would have felt so satisfying before are now clearly a bad idea. That desire to unleash the wrath of the furies subsides.

When clearer heads prevail, better choices are made. Always. So in that difficult moment, can you learn to wait until your head clears before you make your choice? 

Want to dive deeper this concept? I HIGHLY recommend reading just about anything by Pema Chodron. Her book Taking the Leap is a great place to start. I was actually introduced to her teachings through a recorded talk she gave called Don't Bite the Hook that's all about how to handle negative emotions, like anger or resentment. I was struggling with some serious anger issues after losing my father, and I listened to this talk on repeat every day during my commute to and from work for about 6 months. I'm not exaggerating when I say it changed my life, and inspired me to grow and change into a completely different person from the me of ten years ago.

If you do explore her teachings, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Drop me a line:

‘Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? ~Lao Tzu

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