Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

j. allan petersen Archive



February 2016

Hope Reflected: 3 Ways to Control Your Reactions

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Hope Reflected: On Reactions

Anyone else love eating a good steak? You marinade the meat in the fridge overnight, and then grill it, and that combination of char-grilling with your secret spice recipe is mouth-watering – literally. Our saliva contains an enzyme called amylase, which reacts with the food we put in our mouths everyday, and begins the digestion process. And what about photosynthesis? Plants have to eat too, you know! Photosynthesis is a reaction that plants have to convert carbon dioxide and water into food and oxygen for themselves.

OK, so you might be wondering how eating a piece of steak and photosynthesis are relative to each other. Besides the food connection, eating and photosynthesis are processes that both contain reactions.

We don’t always think a lot about our reactions – someone throws a ball, you catch it; the sun shines, you’re more cheerful; someone asks, “how are you today?”, you reply, “Fine.”; something’s funny, you laugh – but reactions are an important part of life, and they can have huge impact on those around us.

Reactions have been on my mind quite a bit lately, especially when I see challenging situations around. Ever notice how when someone gets upset with you, or does something just to spite you, that others are watching to see how you’ll react?

Reactions are important for several reasons, not just because they have lasting impact, but because – even though they are sometimes impulsive – reactions are an outward demonstration of how we feel inside and what’s in our heart.

Here are 3 ways to better control your reactions (usually applied to unfavourable circumstances or people):

  1. Wait for it. Someone say something to you that was rude or out-of-line? Receive a nasty note or email? If you can, step away from the situation before speaking or hitting that ‘Reply’ button. In the heat of the moment, we’re more apt to respond rashly. Give yourself a break, take a breather, step outside and inhale some fresh air – once you’ve had a chance to gain some perspective, then respond.
  2. Sometimes, not doing anything is the best thing. During my undergrad studies, one of my teachers gave my entire class a reading assignment: J. Allan Petersen’s Your Reactions Are Showing booklet. I’m pretty sure several in the class laughed as a reaction to receiving the booklet, but some of the wisdom shared within those pages has stayed with me, even years later. J. Allan Petersen suggests that sometimes, saying or doing nothing is the best reaction of all.
  3. Keep in mind, reactions have lasting impact. What we say and do can’t be taken back, and quite often, even if a circumstance or comment occurs between two people, there are others on the outside watching to see how you’ll respond or react to a situation. Our actions and reactions impact others. What kind of impact do you want to have?

I’ll close with this unknown quote, which says: “You can’t change how people treat you or what they say about you. All you can do is change how you react to it.”

Originally published as “How to Control Your Reactions”. Minto Express. May 20, 2015: 5. Print.