Our dog Daisy broke her foot.
It all happened in a split second. Coming home from work, my daughter jumped up to greet me as Daisy sped underneath. Fast as she is, Daisy’s reflexes were not fast enough to get out of the way. Squeals, cries, and a surgery followed.
Reflexes are there to protect us. We close our eyes if a finger gets too close. A hand is quickly pulled back from a hot stove. Reflexes are there for our protection.
Like reflexes, reactions serve us as well. When something pleases us, we smile. When we hear sad news, we cry. When confronted, we fight.
With my window down and stuck in traffic, I inched along looking for an opening. Seeing daylight between two cars, I started to turn in.
Suddenly the woman in the car behind me sped up and screamed through my window, “I’ve been waiting for 15 minutes in this lane! YOU can get behind ME!!”
Surprised, my reflexes took over. I swung my head around quickly to confront her. Like an angry dog, the hairs on my neck rose, ready for the fight. My pulse jumped. It was time to defend myself.
But then I stopped. I glanced around and slowly looked back at her.
“Thank you for your courtesy.” I replied with as much kindness as I could muster, a spit of sarcasm slipping through. She responded with a barrage of insults and swears.
I pulled in behind her as she rose to a fight that was not to be, her taunts becoming inaudible above the din of engines. The hairs on my neck fell and my pulse slowed as she continued to holler.
Tonight, I chose how to react to a confrontation. It was hard, but I did not rise to her challenge. An argument would have just made things worse.
When we get a letter or email from a charity, we react as well. Often with excuses, indifference, or disdain. But we can control that reaction. We can pause and think about what we are being asked. We then choose – act or not. We can think rather than react.
Our reflexes are beyond our control, but our reactions are not. We are in charge when we are reading email or are confronted by another driver. We do not have to delete that email automatically and we do not have to rise to an argument.
Pause, think, then act. Don’t react.
I got an email from Bienstar requesting a $3 donation in exchange for a grocery bag. I paused, thought, then donated.