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“While reactive people are primarily known by their 'against' stances, proactive people do not demand rights, they LIVE them. Power is not something you demand or deserve, it is something you express. The ultimate expression of power is love; it is the ability not to express power, but to restrain it.”—
Ten Laws of Boundaries: Law #7 The Law of Proactivity
from “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
The Real Difference Between Proactive & Reactive
I was recently (and involuntarily) enrolled in a class for work. The class is based off Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It is one of the best selling books in the world and once you read it, you will undoubtedly agree. (I say this without having ever touched the book because I know the power of influence.) During the first four-hour session, I listened to several of Covey’s lectures about being proactive. After hearing him talk about the shifting of paradigms (paradigms are our own maps of the world, of how we perceive it, not how it really is), I wanted to take charge and change my own paradigm and I was inspired immediately. By immediately, I mean after taking some time to question a few things. (I question everything in life, and that is just the person that I am.) According to Covey, the key to a potent paradigm is a proactive mindset. Every time I hear the word proactive (which is a lot) my mind automatically associate it with planning and preparing. People (mainly those in upper-management) often advise me to be proactive rather than reactive—to take a positive approach in preparation for the things to come rather than wait for them to occur before reacting instinctively (nine out of ten times, poorly). But if I am preparing for something to happen, aren’t I planning a reaction to a possible outcome? After all, isn’t that what it means to be proactive? “Serving to prepare for, intervene in, or control an expected occurrence or situation, especially a negative or difficult one” (dictionary.com). In the case of life, I would be planning and preparing for a future that I may see but may or may not want. The future that I currently have in mind will stimulate me to respond a certain way to the people who are currently in my life, the things by which I am currently surrounded, the feelings in which I am currently drowning, and the mental state where I currently dwell. My response will bring forth the consequences that I have absolutely no control over. It could very well steer me away from the future I envisioned myself being a part of (which can be a good thing if I never liked what I foresaw), and bring me to a different final destination: the one I never knew I didn’t, didn’t want. (The thing with consequences is that they’re not always bad.) However, if I respond negatively, I am accused of being reactive; and if I respond positively by “beginning with the end in mind” (Covey), I am praised for being proactive. Nowhere in the dictionary (or on dictionary.com) is reactive defined as an automatic negative response though. Being reactive simply means showing response to a stimulus. The same can be said for being proactive provided the stimulus in life is the possible future. Pro-acting is a reaction however natural or unnatural, planned or unplanned, instinctively or purposely it may be. It is merely a positive action within a reaction, a choice within a choice. Ergo, there isn’t a real difference between the two. There is, however, a difference between the actions that make a reaction what it is.
I am convinced a potent paradigm isn’t attained from a proactive mindset. A potent paradigm is the foundation on which any mindset is built. We see before we do, and we do before we get.
I almost posted something really smug, but I restrained myself. Just know that I have come to a positive conclusion on my present dilemma, I guess. But I won’t say it out loud because it won’t reflect very nicely on me.
I’m trying really hard to be a better, less jealous, less reactive person, I promise.
Two Types of People:
- Proactive People: Those who take responsibility for their lives
- Reactive People: Those who blame others for their problems
I really just need to vent. I read the site six billion secrets and I’m finding myself a little annoyed every time that I read all these secrets. I don’t think that these people realize that you don’t have to be depressed. You don’t have to cut yourself because your boyfriend broke up with you or treated you like a piece of shit. You could just say “I’m not going to let [insert problem here] get me upset and ruin my day” (Covey 49).
Yes, life is tough. Don’t get me wrong. There are times when I feel weak, upset, or depressed. But then I read books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey and realize that life isn’t so bad as we make it out to be. NOBODY is forcing you to be depressed or angry or anything. YOU decide how your attitude is or how you respond to things. /endrant
I’m trying to be a proactive person and not let things get to me anymore. I’m choosing not to let anything get to me and just have one final summer as a kid before I head off to college. I’m also using my time wisely. I cancelled my a gaming account of mine that I used to be addicted to. Guess what I’m gonna do with all this extra time?
I’m gonna learn to play the guitar and sing. Guess what I’m gonna do with that?
I’m gonna sing in front of people at a nearby coffee shop for an Open Mic.
I’m also gonna start up photography. My first project when I get my camera?
I’m gonna take seven photographs that represent that 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.
And I can’t wait.
Documentary Love: Child of rage
Trigger warning: Reactive Attachment Disorder, mentions of abuse.
Came across this documentary a few weeks ago. The way this child describes her actions and feelings is so calm, it’s frightening. She suffered from Reactive Attachment Disorder. This documentary reveals some of her psychologist appointments, and her during and after treatment.
Reactive vs. Proactive
Reactive people tend to be out of touch with their core values. Instead of running their lives based on unchanging core principles, they pick up temporary values from others around them. They go with the flow of the people and circumstances that surround them, but they don’t direct the flow. Most people think reactively. And reacting to certain events is all well and good. But it becomes a problem when that’s all there is to a person’s life — nothing more than instinctively reacting to stimuli.
Proactive people, on the other hand, are aware of their core values. They consciously make key decisions based on those values. They create their own opportunities and direct the flow of their own lives. Proactive people will take actions that often seem mysterious to reactive people. They may suddenly quit their job to start a new business, even though everything seemed to be going well for them. They’ll often start new projects or activities “out of the blue” when it seems like there’s no externally motivated reason to do so. Being proactive means that instead of merely reacting to events as they happen, you consciously engineer your own events.
Which would you rather be, proactive or reactive? Proactive is definitely a more peaceful life. If only we could avoid all the reactive people then life could be perfect. :)