‘When you react, you are giving away your power. When you reflect before responding you are staying in control”. Bob Proctor

Let’s talk about that moment between receiving an offensive comment and reacting.

Our reactive system is quick, impulsive, intuitive and relies heavily on emotions or habits, while our reflective system is logical, analytical and deliberate. 

Research suggests that the brain can only use one of these systems at a time. So when you are hot and angry, you’re not thinking logically no matter what you tell yourself.

In fact, these two systems are in different parts of the brain. 

Our reactive system involves the basal ganglia and amygdala, which are subcortical brain regions involved in more automatic processes and emotion processing. This system is not always bad however. In fact we should trust our gut feeling because it guides us “unconsciously” though our passed experiences. 

Our reflective system involved the prefrontal cortex, which is our higher order cognitive processing area. In sensitive situations like offence, this system might be advantageous, because strong emotions can distract us from a more rational approach. When using your reflective system, do not ignore your emotions however, but use them in a thoughtful way. In fact, we have emotion processing brain areas in the prefrontal cortex that can aid in this very process. Emotions can serve as powerful signals about what we should do. When combining its power with reflective, rational thought, our decisions are much more sound.