Love and Happiness: Reaction vs Response

By Ke’Ana Lampkins 

We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s not what happened to you, but how you respond” before right? Whether it’s getting cut off by someone in traffic or a customer representative put us on hold for 45-minutes during our lunch hour, we’ve all had challenging situations.

Sometimes we react in a way that we’re less than proud of. Sometimes, we may react harshly to someone that we may never hear from again like a driver or customer representative. But what about conflict among those we know and care for? There are repercussions for our actions, especially with our closest loved ones and friends.

I’ve had my share of blowups toward my husband that could have easily been avoided had I walked away to take a breather, as we’ve already discussed in past articles. It’s hard when someone does something to upset you, especially if they are clueless that they’ve upset you. You want to resolve the emotion as soon as possible so you can go back to living your happy, healthy life.

This is fine, it’s normal; especially when it’s someone you love. The problem is that communication has a few essential rules, which we talked about in the last series, so check it out if you haven’t. But one of the keys to communicating is that both parties have to be available. It has to be the right time, and usually, when something upsets us, our first reaction isn’t the best one. Also, individuals receive critique and information best when it’s delivered in a respectful and calm matter.

At the beginning of our marriage, I thought the exact opposite. In fact, I’d express my concerns immediately following the offense. I thought if I don’t tell him I’m upset now, he, or I will forget. I also thought that I would receive my desired outcome by yelling. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Minor situations were magnified, which made it more difficult to resolve our conflict.

One of the most important things I have learned through 5 years of marriage, therapy, and prayer is that whatever the situation is, it doesn’t have to be addressed ASAP. Take your time, calm down, and figure out what exactly made you angry.

Usually, it isn’t the action that upsets us, it’s our interpreted meaning behind the action. For example, I’m not really upset that my husband left his shoes by the front door, I’m upset about his lack of consideration for the fact that I took time to clean the house.

While anger is usually our first reaction, it’s just a cover-up for what we’re really feeling: disappointment, hurt, underappreciated, etc. Sometimes we know right away what our true feelings are, but most times we don’t. As such, when we react out of anger, we’re wasting time and energy because it won’t be received.

Tune in for the next article in this series: It’s not always them; its you too.

Ke’Ana Lampkins is a contributing writer for The Pedestal Project, LLC. Ke’Ana is a Christian, wife, and mother dedicated to empowering young girls and women through counseling, mentorship, and education. Connect with her on Instagram @Beautifully_Yanni.

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