We are working our way around the spiritual wellness compass. We have explored the quadrants of soul and mind. We are now in the third quadrant, strength, and we are concentrating on care of the body and have talked about food and aging. Last Friday, we talked about stress, and our responses to it. This Friday, April 22, we will continue to explore stress resiliency and the name of our topic is “Response Ability.”
Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist, wrote a highly respected book called Man’s Search for Meaning, about his experience surviving life in a concentration camp during World War II. The central point of this pro¬found book is that no matter how bad things are around us, nothing can change the fact that we still have a choice about how we will respond to what is happening. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom,” says Frankl. He understood the key difference between reacting and responding. Responding, he says, is a choice, whereas reacting is something we do immediately without any conscious thought or choice.
When someone is described as “highly reactive,” it is rarely, if ever, a compliment. A person who is highly reactive is someone who gets upset very easily and whose unfiltered reactions get shared with all those around her. There is a very important difference between reacting to stress and re¬sponding to stress. When we react in a negative way, we usually feel out of control, and often blame the stress, or someone or something other than ourselves, for our poor reaction. Responding is different in that it involves our being able to choose the response we wish to make. This ability to choose our response is a helpful way to think about the word responsibility. On Friday, we’ll talk about Response-Ability.