Saturday, October 11, 2014

Reacting to Reactions is Usually Reactive

There is a lot of life that is just someone reacting to someone else.  So many of my decisions or conclusions have been made reacting to something else.  For me, reacting is like breathing sometimes.  And yet just as I say that, I see entire institutions change directions or entire generations poisoned by over-reactive responses.

When someone else goes too far or even so little as to just make a mistake, it is so tempting and self-assuring to run in the other direction.  But usually, we go too far also.  Folks, that's how wars are started and sustained.  Certainly there are good reasons to run in an opposite direction, but unless those reasons are harmonized through facts AND emotions, the risk of doing more harm than good goes up exponentially.

Take weight gain for an example.  Let's say I start a work out regimen and counting calories.  After 2 weeks, the scale says I have gained 5 pounds.  A typical response might be to grow discouraged and, in order to lift my droopy spirits, eat a carton of ice cream.  Experiencing negative results to hard work is a good reason to be discouraged.  It's reasonable.  But eating an entire carton? Really?  To my emotions it felt not only justified, but exonerating even.  If, however, you ran through some facts first, you'll understand that it wasn't necessary or even a good idea.  New weight-loss efforts often cause a temporary build up of weight-gain before a large weight-loss.  The 5 extra pounds are likely exactly what I want to happen.  Furthermore, eating a carton of ice cream in no way makes my weight-loss efforts easier, but worse.

Unless we take the time to harmonize our emotions with rational facts, we're probably going to miss something major.  Even our physical body mimics this at times.  Eating poorly can affect our brain power and mood.  State of mind can impact the effectiveness of an exercise routine or even sleep.  There's often much more to a problem than we initially see.  A kids temper tantrum is rarely just about not getting one specific thing.  It's vital to take the extra time to give the entire issue balanced attention.  Like I may have mentioned before, if you're an overly emotional person, you NEED a highly rational friend that you consult with often.  If you are very logical and straightforward, it is healthy (especially for your other relationships) to spend quality time with a passionate person.

The perfection or completeness in Christ that we're supposed to strive for is a balance of many things.  The more we surround ourselves with balancing people, the easier that balance becomes.  Let's work on pausing before we react.  Pause long enough to consider what might be missing (some heart or some facts) in our reaction.  Whether you are 3 or 93, this can go a long way in ensuring a good life.

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