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Saturday, 14 February 2015

Reaction vs Response


A beautiful speech by Sundar Pichai - an IIT-MIT Alumnus and Global Head Google Chrome:

The cockroach theory for self developmentšŸ‘
   
At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and  sat on a lady.

She started screaming out of fear.

With a panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.

Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky.

The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but ...it landed on another lady in the group.

Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama.

The waiter rushed forward to their rescue.

In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter.

The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt.

When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.

Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior?

If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed?

He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos.

It is not the cockroach, but the inability of those people to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach, that disturbed the ladies.

The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.

I realized that, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it's my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me.

It's not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.

More than the problem, it's my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life.

Lessons learnt from the story:

Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of.

Reactions are automatic while the responses are calculated.

Reactions come from the heart (riding spontaneous emotions) while responses come from the mind (keeping in mind the 'correctness' of behaviour).

Thus reaction (which is more often than not a retaliation) is considered the root cause of most of our relationship issues, while a response is considered acting with responsibility.

Reactions take a toll on relationships and leaves one feeling guilty. On the other side responses keep relationships going smoothly and yet makes one feel smug. This kind of responsive behaviour helps us keep peace in our outer world however there is something simmering within.

The main reason why this happens is because reations are biological process, connected with the release of certain hormones. When we react we use up these hormones and help our body achieve homeostasis.

On the other hand responses mask our spontaneity and vulnerability and help us project ourselves as 'in control'. While we choose strategies to cover our reactions, the reactions are there nonetheless; albeit swept under the carpet of 'correct' response.

Hence all our unresolved, unexpressed, suppressed, denied emotional reactions lie within to seek expression one way or the other, usually in diseases and chronic pain.

The best way to handle them is to be aware of thier presence and vent them out through creative work or positively discussing about them. This is an ongoing process which calms our mind and eventually helps us reach an equilibrium where we no longer need to mask our reactions with a response.

Till then remember we should not react in life. We should always respond.