Proactive Vs Reactive

Impact on our lives

By P N Sathya Narayanan

In the fast-moving mechanical world, we all come across many experiences, while most of those experiences are pleasant, productive and rewarding, there may be some of them which are not in our favour and that is when we overwhelm with negative emotion, be it anger, pressurised, nervousness, confusion etc.   In such situations, how we choose to ‘handle the moment’ can make a difference between proactive versus reactive, confident versus insecurity and success versus failure.

Most often than not, we tend to be reactive due to fear of unknown, uncertainty or not feeling confident to face or handle such situations. 

I would like to take this opportunity to share my thoughts and some of the tips/ suggestions that will help you to be less reactive in such difficult situations.  The credit for my thoughts goes to a book that I bought online couple of months ago, “How to Let Go of Negative Thoughts and Emotions”.

Most of these suggestions have something in common which are nothing but an introduction to positive interruption to a negative mental or emotional state.  Probably, some of them will be helpful to your situation. 

1.    If you feel angry or annoyed with someone, before you say or do something that you might regret later on; pause for while and take a deep breath, if you are comfortable count slowly from one to ten.  This will calm your mind and you will find a better way of communicating the issue, which will reduce the impact.  If you are still upset, revisit the issue after you calm down.

2.    When you are dealing with a difficult individual, empathise that person, try to put yourself in the challenging person’s place just for a movement and analyse, probably that person must be going through some difficult situation.

a.    Eg. Your Manager is really demanding and giving you hard time. It must not be easy for him/her as there may be pressure from the upper-management.

b.    Eg. Your child is being adamant or resistant. There are probabilities that the child must be facing some issues with studies, school or even social pressures.

   The point here is to remind yourself that people do what they do because of their own issues. As long as, you are being reasonable and considerate, difficult behaviours from others say a lot more about them than they do about you.

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3.    When you go through setbacks and failures, ask yourself, “What is the lesson here?”  How can I learn from this experience?”.   Look ahead, the higher the quality of your questions you ask yourself, the better the quality of your answers you will receive.  Ask constructive questions based on learning and priorities, you can surely gain the proper viewpoint to help tackle the situation at hand.  Do not prude on the past experiences, those are only for references.

4.    If you feel overwhelmed, confused or uninspired, take a break – go into nature surround yourself in colours of green and blue, which has a very calming effect.  Take a paper and pen, list out the issues/situations that you encountered.  Address the causes (irrespective of who was responsible for that situation), now list out as many alternative solutions as possible.  Don’t hesitate to discuss this with a trusted friend, superior or even your family member. 

You have all the capabilities of setting proactive strategies which are interventions designed to anticipate possible challenges in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of occurrence of the problematic situations.  This will help you to eliminate most of the anticipated problems, failures, disastrous situations, whereas reactive strategies are   interventions which are used only once the problem or disastrous situation occurs. They are consequences (or reactions) to your behaviour, where you will be spending all your energy, time and money towards firefighting, blaming others, being defensive.

Though much is said about these approaches, very little is practiced.  My suggestion is to begin from where you can begin and make proactive approach as part of your behaviour, no matter how small or how intense the situation is; I guarantee you the satisfaction, humungous happiness and joy you experience.