“Because our attitudes and behaviors flow out of our paradigms, if we use our self-awareness to examine them, we can often see in them the nature of our underlying maps. Our language, for example, is a very real indicator of the degree to which we see ourselves as proactive people.
The language of reactive people absolves them of responsibility (e.g., ‘That’s me. That’s just the way I am’. ‘He makes me so mad’. ‘I can’t do that. I just don’t have the time’.).
Examples of Reactive language, ‘I can’t’ vs. Proactive language, ‘I choose’.
Reactive, ‘I must’ vs. Proactive, ‘I prefer’.
Reactive, ‘If only’ vs. Proactive, ‘I will’.
That language comes from a basic paradigm of determinism. And the whole spirit of it is the transfer of responsibility. I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE, NOT ABLE TO CHOOSE MY RESPONSE.
A serious problem with reactive language is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People become reinforced in the paradigm that they are determined, and they produce evidence to support the belief. They feel increasingly victimized and out of control, not in charge of their life or their destiny. They blame outside forces—other people, circumstances, even the stars—for their own situation.
In the great literature of all progressive societies, love is a verb. Reactive people make it a feeling. They’re driven by feelings. Hollywood has generally scripted us to believe that we are not responsible, that we are a product of our feelings. But the Hollywood script does not describe the reality. If our feelings control our actions, it is because we have abdicated our responsibility and empowered them to do so.
Proactive people make love a verb. Love is something you do: the sacrifices you make, the giving of self, like a mother bringing a newborn into the world. If you want to study love, study those who sacrifice for others, even for people who offend or do not love in return. If you are a parent, look at the love you have for the children you sacrificed for. Love is a value that is actualized through loving actions. Proactive people subordinate feelings to values. Love, the feeling, can be recaptured.”
Reflect on times you have said or heard reactive phrases such as those in Covey’s discussion. What were the circumstances, why were they stated, who stated them, and what was the result?
Is there an understanding of Values vs. Feelings as a result of your reflections? My personal experience is that this is not an easy ‘walk’ from Feelings to Values. My Expressive social style (Assertive/Emotional) gets in the way; less today than before (but still finding myself using Reactive statements…).
Habit 1 Be Proactive
Principles Of Personal Vision
Circle Of Concern/Circle Of Influence