Living In Action Rather Than Reaction

A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction. ~Rita Mae Brown

Are you the type of person who takes action when needed or who reacts to situations at hand? Do you allow people to incite you to anger and cause you to lash out? I am guilty of having reacted on more than one occasion in my life. I can honestly say, that it has never been fruitful for myself or the recipient of my ire. When I’ve taken time to think things through or plan a course of action, results have been much more productive for all involved. Whenever I act hastily, it is out of emotion. When I am led by emotion, I am not making a balanced decision. What I choose to do affects others. I have to remind myself of repercussions of my reactions. It’s like a ripple effect. I am getting better at squashing my reactions . At times, it is a power struggle within myself to wait out the situation. I realize that when I allow myself to react, I am allowing the creator of the drama to win by enticing me into the battle.

There are people who like to create drama. Each of us have them in our lives. We often nickname them drama queens. Some are even more toxic than that. They like to stir up everything around them and then sit back and watch what happens. And then there are those who think everything is about them. They will take situations that have nothing to do with them and make themselves the star. They are selfish enough to want everyone to think everything is about them. They try to appear as if they are being victimized when the situation in fact has nothing to do with them. Those are the type of people we are healthier to distance ourselves from.

Reaction is often akin to vengeance. It usually says more about the person reacting than the person for whom it is intended. We encounter these instances all the time in reality and on the social media networks. When I am eye to eye with someone, I have the choice of calling them out on their actions or simply walking away. My decision is based on the person and the incident. On the social networks, I choose to ignore those who provoke controversy for their own pleasure. I don’t mind disagreement, but I dislike it when people butt into situations or drag others into it or resort to saying rude things. It is not necessary. I see things all the time that I do not like, but it doesn’t mean that I must jump into the middle of it. When people resort to bullying others through words, start name calling, or use “hate” language, I think they’ve gone too far. I think people who initiate these sort of things are on power quests. Maybe it gives them a false sense of superiority when they step off of the hot seat and push someone else onto it.

I have recently had instances where I’ve seen people make comments on other people’s posts that have indicated the true character of the reactor rather than disclaiming the person intended. I used to be in contact with people who made everything about them or had a habit of stirring up controversy, and when called out would switch stances to appease both sides of the issue at hand. My blood would boil every time I saw a (Facebook) post, and I would just ignore it. Then, another senseless controversy was started, one in which the basis was proven not be factual, but this person wanted drama. I never commented; I simply “unfriended” this person. I could have chosen to push the block button, but I had no reason to be “friends” with this person. We have no current connection or reason of contact. Although I contemplated doing this for months when I finally pushed the button, I felt relieved and guilty at the same time. While I did it out of emotion at the moment, I decided that I was tired of watching someone throw a bone and step away to let the dogs fight over it…too much drama for me. But in all fairness, my reaction says just as much about me as it does about this person…still, I stand by my code of ethics. (And I’m sure this person stands by theirs.)

In the game of life, we can be active participants, cheerleaders on the sidelines, or hecklers in the crowd. Being active is healthy for us. Having people cheer us on inspires us to reach our potential. Cheering others on helps them and makes us feel connected. But hecklers? What purpose do they serve but to cause frustration, anger, and other negative emotions? Do hecklers really find pleasure in their actions? Does it give them a sense of power to make other feels displeasure? Why can’t we all play on the same team? I know life doesn’t work like that….but seriously can’t people learn to debate in a healthy manner?

While our differences are what makes the world an interesting place and we don’t have to agree on all issues, it would be beneficial for all if we could be respectful. If we could spend our time actively seeking positive changes, we’d have less energy to react negatively. If we (myself included) could learn to react with compassion, we might make more of a difference than we think.

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. -Proverbs 27:10

37 thoughts on “Living In Action Rather Than Reaction

  1. Wonderful post, Suzi.

    I have unfriended several people on FB when I realized that they could in no way be considered my “friend.” 🙂

    I just commented on Pseu’s post about mindfully choosing the “right” course of action rather than mindlessly reacting based on the heat of the motion.

    Remaining mindful generally leads us in the “right” direction for us . . . even if others don’t understand why we left.

  2. I am a reactor, so my way of dealing with that is to take myself out of the situation. Of course, staying and being able to deal with it would be the best way, but I am not at that point. I have to step away, compose, breath, THINK, and then come back. But I know if I stay I will act out of emotion and then hurtful things will be said or done and then there is that to deal with.

    I do believe that there are people who get enjoyment out of being mean and hurtful. I believe that these type of people are in pain themselves and they are unhappy so they think that other people should suffer too or it just makes them happy to see others suffer. The suffering they cause could be as a result of heclking, toxicity, throwing in a bone . . . . whatever . . . . I do believe that some people enjoy that.

    I am fascinated that you put “reactors”, “drama queens”, “hecklers”, “cheerleaders”, and “bone throwers” all in one post because I tend to think that each are coming from different places so I wouln’t lump ’em all together. Interesting . . . . . . .

    • Reactors, drama queens, hecklers, and bone throwers all induce negativity while cheerleaders lift others up….thus was able to lump them all together, maybe only vaguely. I have always been a reactor as I am an emotional person. I have learned to walk away and come back (most of the time at least) and it has been most beneficial. I almost always regret spouting off.

      • Duh. That is what you were saying! I was concentrating on the “WHY” they are they way they are and not on the result . . . . which is the negative.

        I have a smart mouth and I can easily “win” an argument but as you said that would really just make me look bad. Because the “winning” usually is just saying something so mean and hurtful (but maybe even a little funny) it kind of halts the argument. Then the issue that caused the argument gets lost because there is a new situation/problem. I am glad to see that I am not the only one that has to do the walking to keep from the “talking”.

        There is a show on TV now where the couple employs a “pause” in their arguments. Yes, I know it is TV and it is a silly comedy at that, but that idea is interesting. When they are arguing when they get to a point where they sense hurtfulness coming on they say, “PAUSE”. And they stop the argument but continue on with life. Then when they are ready to talk about it again, they say, “Unpause.” I don’t think I would be that good at “switching gears”, but I bet some people would be able to master something like that.

  3. It takes a lot to push me to the edge. I’m probably a little too complacent. I don’t seek revenge (even if I want to). I know that’s not my place.

    I react much less to drama (my MOTHER). I realize it’s not my issue, but hers. And it is sad that it’s all some people live for.

    Next time, block the “friend” and they will never know what happened to you, except that you just disappeared from Facebook. 🙂 You won’t show up in searches or anything.

    • We all have our family drama queens, and you’re right it’s their issues not ours. I know it is sad. Thanks for the tip on FB…I figured if I blocked them I’d be taking the cowardly way out…sent me another request which I denied, so I was found out, and now I’m a bad guy!

  4. “Do you allow people to incite you to anger and cause you to lash out? I am guilty of having reacted on more than one occasion in my life. ”

    Me too, Suzi! However, blogging (which I am so grateful for) has actually retrained me to pause before reacting in my comment; to come back at another time until I can respond in a constructive and intelligent manner. And in doing so, it’s enabled me to do the same in my interactions away from the internet with people I come in contact with everyday.

    What I’ve also learned, is that if I ever do lash out and say something in the heat of the moment, it only comes back and hurts me because I only feel my own heat.

    “While our differences are what makes the world an interesting place and we don’t have to agree on all issues, it would be beneficial for all if we could be respectful.”


    Wonderfully expressed post, Suzi! Thank you!


  5. Oh yes, I quite concur…the heat of the moment has undone many a person. To my own shame I find myself more often than I’d like reacting rather than acting…and bloody hell, those drama llamas do like to rear their ugly heads often enough! I know especially in college we couldn’t go a semester without somebody causing some sort of attention-grabbing incident, for whatever the reason.

  6. This is well-timed post for me Suzicate. I don’t have a poker face and am eager to share my emotions. I react, instead of thinking, and most of the time it is to my detriment. I wish I could just go with the flow or live and let live. I am embracing this much more as I get older because there is a point in time when you have to part with toxic people. Saying goodbye is often difficult, but the right decision. Thanks for sharing this with us today.

  7. I have a person in my life that thrives on drama. Loves it. And this person causes all sorts of mayhem where there was none to begin with. It’s horrible and hard to deal with, and I stay clear of this person as much as possible.

    Really thought provoking post, too, Suzicate. And interesting about the social networks. I get what you’re writing about – I think we’ve all been there, done that sort of thing. I hope that if something has happened it all works out for you, my friend. I know you are a person of good ethics.

    • the hardest part is when the drama person is a family member or a family friend and you can only distance yourself but so much…I think most of us have one of those in our lives, too.

  8. Yep, its easy to let emotions get in the way, but you are right, good decisions never come from that.

    I have had several drama queens in my life who always made themselves more important than me and would put me down and I never even noticed until my husband pointed it out to me – I was so used to it I never realized it!

    When I confronted one person in particular, she decided if I didn’t want to make her number one, we were no longer friends – and I haven’t spoken to her in 9 years, and this was a person I talked to several times a day.

    • Your husband is a wise man. Sometimes, it takes someone else to point out the obvious as we’re often too clouded by emotion. So glad you got out of that toxic relationship.

  9. Pretty easy for me to get emotional. That’s my light and my shadow. As long as I know this and can keep it in check it’s probably OK. The factors that affect things? Sleep loss, hunger, too much activity or a long to-do list. Not enough art.

    I love the emphasis on simply backing away. When I was younger this simply was not an option for me. These days I watch all the time. Life seems to go along without me interfering pretty well. Or not. But all the same, my drama doesn’t seem crucial.

    • I’ve always hated (until recently) the fact that I can never hide my true feelings. I’ve finally embraced the fact that I feel whatever emotion deeply. I would rather to have felt than to never had experienced it at all. I can’t control how things affect me, but I can control (though at times difficult) my reactions to how I am affected. Oh yes, I still cry when I’d rather not, but I can hold my tongue much better than I used to.

  10. It’s almost the old “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. I don’t mind respectful controversy at all. It’s the negative “if you don’t see it my way, you are stupid” that I really hate. I generally avoid people who have big issues they want to take out on others.

    • My mother taught me that, and I still do it today. I will be honest with people I love, but I am tactful…I don’t aim to hurt. And at all costs try to avoid the drama.

  11. To be proactive instead of reactive – that is the hard part. I’ve gotten better over the years, largely because I’ve realized how much energy anger takes. But so much of how statements and comments are taken depends upon the way it’s stated – the wording can either make or break it. Oft times I think people just don’t say exactly what they mean in the most diplomatic way, and it comes across poorly. Other times they are just flat not nice people – drama queens (or kings), hecklers, agitators. Avoiding them is my response.

  12. OMGosh, you did it again .. perfect words for something that I have been watching a friend live through for way too long (it was beginning to effect me).

    Your quote at the very beginning is so perfect. The types of relationships you describe are definitely “a life of slavery”. My friend has lost all aspects of his life and himself to stay in one of these sick relationships (reactions, extreme drama, selfishness, lies, manipulations and fear) and now appears to have no energy or desire to change things for the better. I’ve been a witness to an extreme example of the damage and sickness that can develop when you live a life of reactions and never what you plan, what you want. The situation is so unbelievable to me … it is amazing how badly we can hurt ourselves when we refuse to act and go minute to minute reacting to others.

    Personally, I am the opposite (and maybe that is why my friend’s situation bothers me so much). I am mostly a thinker and a planner (teacher in me I guess) .. I think, plan then act .. but, I have been known to react when really pushed (a few students have found that out ;0).

    Thank you for sharing your very wise thoughts on this … I agree with you … and don’t feel guilty about unfriending someone like that who is not your friend … you are protecting yourself from future disrupting drama. You are also defining who you consider a friend … and you should. I personally have always hated that Facebook calls everyone a “friend” … I think it takes a lot away from what that word really means.

    • Seems like we’ve been writing for each other lately! That is good that you think before you speak. I admire people who do that. It takes constant practice for me because I’ve always been a blurter who winds up with her foot in her mouth! However, it’s not that I’m trying to be mean…I just don’t always word things properly and they come out completely wrong. I’m getting better. I’m trying to learn the art of pausing.

  13. Emotionally reactions are never productive.
    I have had to learn, rather learn to temper reaction over the last year or so and i genuinely feel happier in life.
    But even a reaction can be a positive one sometimes.
    I suppose it depends on the context.
    Interesting thoughts here Suzi

    • You’re correct that it depends on the context as there are good reactions as well. I was speaking more on the terms of people spouting off in anger or inciting others to rudeness.

  14. I despise drama, and I distance myself from those who like to stir the pot. I’ve had friends who made everything about them, even when the situation had NOTHING to do with them! And let me tell you, it was a huge stressor and caused one too many headaches. (I’ve had friends (who are not longer my friends) get offended because I won’t/can’t hang out with them on the weekends because that’s family time- time with my hubby and son. I have little patience for that depth of self-centeredness.)

  15. Another beautiful post and sentiment. I’ve been struggling with too much reaction lately. Oddly, it’s partly because one person around me in a daily situation doesn’t take the time to recognize my significant role in helping her to be successful. I go to reaction mode (inside) and become somewhat of an angry beast in my thoughts. Finally got ahold of it this weekend and am starting to head back to a more natural course, one of calmer reflection and action rather than reaction.

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