Mon | Sep 26, 2022

Be less reactive, more proactive

Published:Wednesday | July 14, 2021 | 12:09 AMDesiree Duncan/Contributor

Our response to a situation sometimes just erupts from our minds and into our actions, overflowing unconsciously into our daily lives. Our reactions begin to seem compulsory, as we get angry, upset and fearful when we are presented with contrasting situations. We react happy and satisfied only when the conditions are what we call good.

To understand what reactions are, we first define the word. The prefix re means ‘again and again’, while act means ‘to behave a certain way’. To be reactive means to practise a specific behaviour in response to a situation. Many may say, “Well, it’s my personality, it’s just who I am.” But our personality is just an accumulation of thoughts and reactions from previous experiences. So the way you react is simply because you’ve practised it that way throughout your life. Don’t believe me? Well, the proof is all around you, just observe.

For example, if the word dentist is mentioned, you may immediately think “I hate the dentist” or “Can’t tell the last time I went to the dentist”. You may say it out loud or simply just think it, but still you are reacting.

What we think about something or someone influences the way we react to them. If you think dentists are ‘rough’ and lack compassion, you react in fear. We have the choice to practise more loving, wonderful and appreciative thoughts about the dentist or anything else. It’s simple to do but not easy because we have practised the opposite. Being fearful has been normalised, being angry and worrisome has become our nature, while complaining is a sport.

This is what Romans 12:2 references to “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind … .”

We must see the world in a different way, and we see the world through our thoughts. With the adjustment of our thoughts, our personality also changes. The word change here is a synonym for growth.

How does one change the thoughts that they’re accustomed to thinking? Well, you must want to, you must care about the way your thoughts make you feel. In your wanting, you will start to make the effort to think and react differently. We all want to receive inspired thoughts, to have new and genius ideas but we can’t get there from fear and complaining.

This week it is my intention to inspire you to become aware of what thoughts and reactions you are practising. It’s sometimes easier to notice in others the things we do not see in ourselves. It should be easier for some of us as we people-watch anyway, but now we have an intention.


• Make a mental intention to observe and realise the reactions of someone close to you. Doesn’t matter who it is, could also be you.

• Really listen to their conversations. Is it mostly complaining and worrisome? Or is it filled with joy, appreciation and fun?

• For those close to you, notice each time they repeat the same stories to you.

• Are the conversations emphasising the things they want or the things they do not want?

• Notice what they say when they get angry or defensive about their opinions. Have you heard and seen this reaction before?

Do your best to observe in a non-judgemental way, do it with love and curiosity. Soon you’ll become aware of our human inclination for repetition, complaining and quick reacting. As you recognise this, it would be good to smile or laugh to yourself because we are all guilty.

Introducing this levity and awareness into your experience will encourage you to relax more, to be less reactive and to practise less complaining. It is simple yet transformative and it only requires observation. Try it! Next week I will emphasise being more proactive.

Source: Ester and Jerry Hicks: The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent, The Teachings of Abraham

Dr Desiree Duncan is a dentist at Friendly Smiles Dental. Email feedback to, or call 876-346-0237.