Just because you’re doing something, maybe doing a lot of something, maybe desperately doing in order to resolve the situation, doesn’t mean that what you’re doing is working or will get you the result you need.  Sometimes bailing out the boat so you can get to shore makes sense.  Lots of work if you have to do it with a bucket, more if all you have is a couple, pretty pointless if what you’ve got is a thimble.  Depending on the amount of leakage anyway.    Just doing something isn’t always better and all the doing may just be exacerbating the problem.  So it’s worth it to stop for a moment and evaluate.

Is what you’re doing acting or reacting?  Although these two things can look externally like exactly the same thing, they are actually quite different and lead to different ends to any given situation.  Neither is good or bad, but like any tool they are suited to a particular set of situations and should be used appropriately.  If a car is going to run you over, a bear is going to maul you, or you are facing the barrel of a gun, reacting is a good idea.  The reaction should fit the circumstance, but it’s probably your best bet for survival.  If you find yourself in a long term situation that never gets resolved or never even improves, Heaven help that it gets worse, then reacting is absolutely the wrong tool to be using.

Acting is not the opposite of reacting, it means making a choice based on the bigger picture instead of just the events of the moment.  Acting means creating resistance to the way things are attempting to go, creating something from the raw materials presented, making choices with positive benefits that may be long term vs the short term rewards of reacting.  For example, in a situation where things have devolved into blaming and personality plays and power games, reacting just fosters this issue and gets you into a downward spiral.  Whether the setting is in the work place, at home, in an organization or with family of origin, acting can help you change the dynamic if only for yourself.  Step away from the emotions for a moment and look at the long term goals, then start thinking of positive, non-emotional, non-blaming ways in which you can strive to achieve that.  You don’t need to shoulder all responsibility.  It may be that the positive action is to release responsibility.  It may mean that you shoulder it in a different way.  It may mean that you leave the situation entirely or that you get more engaged in order to set new boundaries.

Which all sounds amazingly easy and yet it’s not.  Because acting and reacting come very much from our identities.  We can come to believe that reacting is all that we can do and all we’re good at, that the situation is the way it is and there’s nothing we can do about it, that this situation is who we are and we just need to suffer through it.  Choosing to act requires you to evaluate your identity.  It challenges you to see the world differently, to act differently, to live a different way.  It’s not necessarily easy, but getting the life you deserve is worth it.