Proactive vs. Reactive -
A Choice for Change


Being proactive vs. reactive - do we really have a choice? Do we choose to be reactive or does reactivity simply come to us, uninvited? How about proactivity? Does it just happen, or do we consciously need to invite it into our mind and into our lives?  Let's take a closer look at being proactive versus reactive and what this actually means...

The Qualitative Difference

"What you are is what you have been, what you will be is what you do now."

~The Buddha

The essential distinction between being proactive vs. reactive is the difference between responding and reacting. Response is always a choice. Reaction is automatic and ruled by habit. It's no coincidence that the word reaction is made of two parts 're' and 'action' - indicating an action repeated.

React to circumstance - and you are controlled by circumstance. Respond to circumstance - and you are in control of yourself instead. Responding is free and intelligent; reacting is bound and unintelligent.

When we react we create problems both for ourselves and for others. When we respond, we eliminate problems or prevent them from occuring in the first place. This is because responses are tailored to circumstance; while reactions are triggered by it.

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Victim or Sovereign of the Mind?

We all want to be in control of our lives. We want to know that there's someone at the wheel! Yet when we're being reactive we have the distinct and unmistakable feeling that someone other than ourselves is pulling the strings. Reactive, we often do or say things we end up regretting. We aren't really at choice.

It doesn't feel good to know we aren't choosing to benefit ourselves or others. Reactivity, rather, has taken over the show. However, this doesn't mean it's time to accept our lot and resign ourselves to 'this is just the way things are.'

After all, life is meant for living - conscious living. Otherwise we find ourselves merely at the receiving end of the mind - never at the forefront of it. We find ourselves led by the mind, instead of leading it ourselves.

To be at the receiving end of the mind often means we are made to endure. Yet  endurance isn't the whole picture of life now is it? Having to endure the mind isn't leading it. When we lead, it is the mind that has to endure us for a change. How about that! Calling upon true inner self ensures that we are as creative and intelligent in leading the mind as we can possibly be.

Reactive vs. Proactive Awareness

Do you consider yourself a reactive or proactive person? Most likely you find yourself both proactive and reactive to various degrees. The potential for both is ever present inside us. Perhaps you find yourself powerfully proactive under certain circumstances, yet hopelessly reactive in others? The work to be done depends heavily on self awareness. We must become aware of our reactive tendencies if we are to shift from reactive to proactive thinking.

Developing self awareness we become increasingly able to control our reactive patterns. After all, without self awareness our reactive patterns have full reign to continue as before. If we want to replace reaction with response we need to be mindful.

The more we aim to be proactive, the more we come up against reactivity within. This is essential since we can't work with something that we can't first 'see'. Awareness of the reactive tendencies of the mind is brought to the fore - where we can deal with it directly.

Stepping Out of the Mind for Proactivity

Reaction is past conditioning within us - expressing itself now. Being proactive vs. reactive is to break this chain of automatic causation. We create some distance from the happenings of the mind - and in this space we enjoy the many benefits of being proactive - the freedom from living compulsively. We find ourselves walking our karmic path to life change - consciously this time. We bring about positive change in increasingly intentional ways.

Making that Choice

We can't control everything in our lives nor do we need to. Yet how we choose to relate to life is always within our power. If we want our future to be different from our past, if we want to grow and change in new and exciting ways - proactivity best become a cornerstone of our lives.

Being proactive vs. reactive is to take lead of the mind rather than be led by it (check out some proactive Yoda wisdom for more on leading the mind). The more proactive we become - the more freedom we experience in life. This freedom empowers us to live as we intend, instead of succumbing to a mind that would rather have us pretend.

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