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Happier, Healthier, and More Stress-Free in 2023!
#30 of 52 Mastering Response Over Reactivity – Unlock Your Potential!

Hello again, Jon Macaskill here, retired Navy SEAL Commander turned Mindfulness and Leadership coach from Frogman Mindfulness and the Men Talking Mindfulness Podcast. 

Welcome to the latest edition of my Frogman Mindfulness newsletter/blog!  This week, I want to tackle a powerful concept that’s central to mindful leadership: Response versus reactivity. We recently covered this topic on an episode of our podcast, Men Talking Mindfulness, alongside meditation teacher, Charles Freligh.  If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it for some in-depth discussion. (Listen here)

Let’s start by clarifying these terms. Reactivity often stems from knee-jerk reactions driven by emotions or habitual patterns. It’s like a reflex, devoid of conscious thought. On the contrary, a response is thoughtful, measured, and anchored in awareness. It’s a key aspect of mindful leadership.

As a former Navy SEAL Commander, I’ve been in situations where reactivity could lead to disaster. Our training hammers in the importance of controlled response, of evaluating the situation before acting. But this doesn’t apply only to high-pressure, high-stakes environments. In our daily lives, in our interactions with colleagues, friends, or family, choosing response over reactivity can make all the difference.

For instance, let’s say you receive feedback on a project that’s … well, let’s just say “less than flattering.” The reactive approach might involve immediate defensiveness or frustration. But by practicing mindfulness, we can pause, absorb the feedback, and choose a more constructive response.

The beauty of mindfulness is that it gives us a moment to pause, a window of opportunity to choose a considered response instead of an instinctual reaction. Remember, how we respond to our challenges defines us far more than the challenges themselves.

So, how can we foster this ability? Here are a few strategies:

1. Mindful Breathing: Use your breath as an anchor, grounding you in the present moment and providing a pause before responding.

2. Regular Reflection: Practice daily reflection to recognize reactive patterns and build self-awareness.

3. Self-Compassion: Understand that it’s okay to not get it right all the time. Learn from these experiences without harsh judgment.  (Also, my Men Talking Mindfulness podcast cohost, Will Schneider, has been doing some really deep learning about self compassion in a course he’s been taking via Standford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education – let me know if you’d like to know more!)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how these strategies work for you. Don’t hesitate to share your experiences, your successes, and your challenges. Remember, the journey towards more responsive leadership and living is just that, a journey. Each step you take in fostering self-awareness and choosing mindful responses is a step forward.

Until next time, take care, and keep growing!

Jon Macaskill (From Frogman Mindfulness and the Men Talking Mindfulness Podcast)

PS – If you’re looking for a speaker to come and talk to your organization about self sabotage, mindfulness, learning to respond vs react, and/or resilience, I speak on these very things and would be honored to help YOUR team! Learn more here HERE!

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