From Re-acting to Pro-acting

If you’re proactive, you don’t have to wait for circumstances or other people to create perspective expanding experiences. You can consciously create your own.” (Stephen Covey)
To activate the power within, you should be pro-active. Stephan R. Covey (1999, 2004) in his book, explained the habit of being pro-active as the first habit of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people”. Through the story of Victor Frankle, we understand what it means to be pro-active.

Victor Frankle was a Jew and psychiatrist who lived during the Second World War during the 1940s. He was imprisoned in a Nazi Germany death camp. Frankle’s parents, his wife, his brother, and his friends died in the camp. He suffered torture, and he suffered knowing that at any moment, he could be sent to be burned in the Nazi camp.

One day, he was naked and alone in a small room, the Nazi had full control over the environment and his body. That moment he began to become aware of what he called the last of the human freedom, that Nazi has taken from him. Victor Frankle was totally self-aware of the moment and he decided to observe himself . He decided what he wanted to feel. He did not let Nazi decide for him. He began to see himself giving a lecture at his university about his experiences at the Nazi camp. He decided within himself how all of this was going to affect him. He did not react to the torture but he decided to respond to the stimuli. He understood that there was a free space between the stimuli he got and how he wanted to respond to the stimuli. He found his freedom to choose his respond. Frankle chose was an active response and not a passive reaction to the torture. Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.

Frankle developed the method and habit of pro-activity. Pro-activity means that we as human being are responsible for our lives. When we are pro-active we do not blame circumstances, or conditions. Our behavior is a product of our own conscious choice, based on values.

To give power to ourselves, we move from being reactive to being proactive. Reactive people are affected by their physical and social environment and conditions. Reactive people build their emotions as a reaction to the actions or behaviors of other people. They are driven by feelings, circumstances and environment. I used to be reactive, I valued spontaneous reaction. This habit is mostly usual for people world wide. But thinking about being pro-active changed my behavior. I listen to Gandhi who said, “They cannot take away our self respect if we do not give it to them.” I listened to Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “No one can hurt you without your consent.”
Covey gives a list of reactive and pro-active language. For example a reactive language is, “there is nothing I can do.” We can change it to proactive language, “let’s look at our alternatives.” Phrases such as “I cannot”, “I must”, “if only”, could be changed to “I choose”, “I prefer”, or “I will”.
Reactive people have a tendency to focus on problems that they have no control over. They blame the environment and circumstances and feel as like powerless victims. The proactive people focus and see opportunities in problems/challenges . They concentrate on the the circle of their influence and feel they can do something about it.

The reactive people also have a tendency to think “outside-in”. What is out there has to change before we can change. The proactive people think “inside-out’. They give power to themselves and say “I can be an agent for positive change”.
You can give power to yourself by being pro-active. To be pro-active you should practice to think positively, focus on the positive and beautiful side of everything. Thinking positive gives you energy to unleash the power within you.

Here are some actions to eliminate negative thinking:

1. Smile.

Smile, if you are not in mood still smile; Research shows that fake smiling can have a positive effect on your mood, and also relieves stress.

2. Surround yourself with positive people.

Surround yourself and talk to people who are positive and supportive.

3. Use positive words for your thoughts

For example, instead of using negative words such as “problems”, “hard time”, or “difficult”, use positive words such as “opportunities”, “strengthen”, and “developing”, etc.

4. Shift focus from yourself to other people

Most negative thinkers are also very ego-centered. Thinking of other people and how we can help them can change negative thinking to the positive.

5. Think about what you are grateful for in your life.

Be grateful for what you already have. There are thousands of things we can think of and be grateful for. Just thinking of being grateful to be alive, is the most powerful energy we give us ourselves to think positive.

6. Meditation

When we meditate, we bring our thoughts and our body to the moment. We become more aware for our thoughts and our power to master them.

7. Listen to positive affirmation every morning and night

To create the habit of positive thinking, we have to repeat the positive affirmation every morning and every night before we go to bed for months and years. Just after one month listening to affirmation, we will enjoy them so much that we don’t want to miss the. 



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