How to respond versus react

by | Mindfulness

Every single day, life comes our way, bringing with it a variety of situations that may not always be pleasant.  We always have a choice about what we do as a result.  Let’s talk about how you can learn to respond – rather than react – to the things that are going on around you. (watch the full video below!)


We all have things that go on around us, whether those things are noise or lots of activity in our homes, or in other places that we are, or maybe it’s a long to-do list or even emotions that are coming up.  

We all have moments, in our day to day lives, where we feel overwhelmed or stressed.  In those moments that’s where it’s more likely that we would react to something that happens, to react to something that someone does or says to us, rather than respond.


And that can lead to unnecessary conflict – perhaps doing or saying something that we don’t really mean.


But if we had taken the time to be a little bit thoughtful around it, and create some space, we might have chosen something different as our response.


Let me share this quote from Viktor Frankl:

“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 freedom.”


I love this because when we practice the skills that will help us to respond – rather than react – to the things that happen to us in our day to day lives, we really can grow … grow in our communication skills and in our relationships with others.


We can then find ourselves free of getting into those unnecessary conflicts that might have come because of the way that we reacted, rather than responded, in our own words and our own actions.


Something that we can practice to help us to get better at responding rather than reacting is mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply awareness in a non-judgmental way of everything that’s going on around us in any given moment. 


It’s a quality of inner stillness that we can find by simply sitting and being quiet and noticing.


And one way that we can practice mindfulness is through breathing.


Just breathe.


 And if we just breathe but pay attention to that breathing, it helps us to be able to bring that into our everyday lives and take a pause – creating that space between something that happens AND how we would respond to it.


Take a few mindful breaths following the steps below or watch the video to hear me lead you through this practice.


how to respond vs reactWhen I share this with people, to begin with, I like to use the visual in the picture. And this, I like to call my breath ball.


It’s actually called a Hoberman sphere, and I use it to illustrate breath in and breath out.


 Step 1 – Visualize this breath ball slowly opening and closing.   


Step 2 – Allow your breath to sync up with the opening and closing of the breath ball. Breathing in, when it opens, breathing out, as it closes.


Step 3 – Encourage yourself to get quiet – in your body, mind, and heart – and come back to your breath as an anchor if you get distracted. 


 And when we get quiet, sometimes the mind can get a little bit busy.


If that’s happening for you right now as you’re breathing in and breathing out you could actually say the words, silently to yourself – breathing in, breathing out.  When you practice this mindful breathing on purpose – every day or even just a few times a week or whenever you need a moment to slow down  – it becomes so much easier for you to do that automatically.


In your day to day interactions, you’ll be much more likely to stop and pause and take a deep breath, which then allows you to respond – rather than react – to something that might have happened to you in your environment.


If you have any questions, you can always reach out. I hope that this has been helpful for you today and hope that you have a fantastic day. 

















Amy Necci

Amy Necci

Balanced Life Mentor for Educators

Hi, I’m Amy (she/her)!
•PA Teacher 20+ years•

I consider myself a teacher and student every single day. I empower educators with self-support tools so they can live their BEST life!

As a teacher myself, I’m especially passionate about serving educators and feel strongly that learning self-support strategies can benefit anyone at any stage of life. In mentoring educators, my goal is to cultivate a space of acceptance and comfort, offering the people I support permission to be themselves, trust themselves, and grow at their own pace.