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“Are you Reactive or Proactive?”

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“Are you Reactive or Proactive?”

February 14, 2022 “Are you Reactive or Proactive?”
A high school (HS) friend called me over the weekend to tell me that one of our favorite coaches from HS, Coach Vaughn passed away. It led me to talking about when my favorite teacher/my mentor/my soror was first diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, RIP Mrs. Rodgers. My first reaction was to get on a plane and go see her and that’s just what I did. As the old folks would say, “I had to lay my eyes on her”. I had to see for myself how she was doing, to see if she needed anything and to basically let them know I am always here for her.
When I arrived in Detroit at my mentor’s home, she had gallons and gallons of alkaline water. She said ever since her diagnosis everyone had been bringing her alkaline water along with literature as to why alkaline water is the best and beneficial for her care & recovery, she stated, “I wish I knew about this water before my cancer”. Mrs. Rodgers was a stellar athlete; she never smoked or drank alcohol. She truly lived a proactive life and although she had no control over getting lung cancer, she left this earth on her own terms, checking off her bucket list and living her last days happy surrounded by love. In life you will have your reactive people and your proactive people. Which one are you?
Reactive people know the importance of preventive care like having an annual physical, getting their eyes examined yearly and teeth cleaning twice a year. Yet most reactive people won’t go get preventive care unless they are forced, in severe pain or they can’t see to drive any more. How many times have you heard a male talk about getting a prostate examination, “I am not going to let someone stick a finger in me”? However, that finger for just a moment in their life, could save them.
I like this quote by Stephen Covey; “Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance. Proactive people carry their own weather with them.”
During the summer I often hear people say, “I can’t exercise, ‘it’s too hot outside”. Then in the winter they say it’s too cold. Whether we realize it or not, we choose to subject ourselves to those forces that are outside our circle of control. We choose to make excuses, experience happiness, unhappiness, anger, frustration, boredom, and elation. We choose to create the habits of wallowing in self-pity, shifting the blame, and feeling powerless.
So, how do we overcome being less reactive and more proactive? Becoming more proactive is essentially a practice of mindfulness. It involves you becoming more aware of everything that is going on in the moment. We must change how we speak; our language tells us a lot about our level of reactivity or proactivity. Reactive people tend to use “I can’t”, “If only”, and “I have to”. These phrases are shifting the blame to outside circumstances, getting rid of responsibility. Consciously change these to more positive, empowering phrases. “I can”, “I will”, “I want to”. A simple change in language can make a big difference.
As with everything, take your time and don’t be too hard on yourself. We’ve been raised in quite a reactive world, and have
developed lifelong habits that will take time to change. That’s not to say we can’t change though. Just take it slow, enjoy the self-reflective process, and savor that feeling of taking charge of your life. No Mess

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