Mastering Self-Control: Responding vs. Reacting


Today’s Gold Nugget: SELF-CONTROL

We are often challenged with situations or individuals who confront us in aggressive or challenging ways. Then what happens? We automatically react and lose self-control, our peace, and our temper. Can you relate? You are definitely not alone.

The reality is, that reacting gives the individual or situation power over us because we lose control of our emotions. Acting on an impulse leaves us with negative feelings, such as stress, anxiety, discouragement, guilt, and sometimes even depression.

In this article, I would like to shine some light on the area of the mind and behaviors. The mind is made of our will, emotions, and intellect (reasoning/intelligence). The Word of God is clear that we must renew our minds to avoid being conformed to the pressures of this world. And that my friend is not automatic. It requires effort on our part.

The good news is our minds can learn new behaviors and form new habits. Neuroscience calls this neuroplasticity. It refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize and adapt by forming new neural connections throughout life. It allows the brain to learn and adapt to new information, experiences, and challenges.


  • Happens without conscious thought or consideration
  • You are aware of your reaction by stopping and observing
  • Instincts and learned behavior take over
  • No second thought about whether the reaction will have a negative or positive outcome
  • An impulse and emotional response
  • Have little or no control


  • You are aware of your reaction by stopping and observing
  • You identify and become aware of unpleasant or uncomfortable emotions, and mindfully choose your response
  • Your internal reaction is still the same, but your external response will be adjusted
  • You evaluate the situation and slow down
  • Maintain self-control

The Virtue of Self-Control

Self-control is a virtue and one of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit, which is the Character of God Galatians 5:22-23. It’s an important quality in our Christian life because it helps us resist temptation and live in God’s will. To develop this fruit, we focus and train our mind to exercise it until it grows and becomes a strength in our own character.

We exercise self-control internally separating or detaching from confrontations or situations, allowing us to remain calm. This enables us to think and respond in the right way. Remember this, not responding is also a response. You can think about it and revisit this conversation at a later time because it is important to solve this issue. Never allow anyone to push you in a negative way.

If you take the time to respond in a calm, honest, and real way, then you are in control. You are strong enough to resist external influences, attacks, or manipulations. Don’t let anyone provoke you to react in a hostile or impulsive way.

In John 8:1-11 we read about Jesus detaching Himself, sitting down, and writing in the sand. He was taking His time to think about His response to the request of the Scribes and Pharisees (religious people) to give a death sentence to the adulterous woman who was caught in the act, according to the Law of Moses.

3 Steps to Learn to Respond and Not React 

  • Recognize when you have an over-reaction and regain self-control to answer accordingly
  • If you are not sure how to respond, excuse yourself
  • Say clearly that you will return to the conversation because it is important to resolve this issue

To dive deeper into this subject, I created a FREE worksheet you can download. In your quiet time go through it and put in some thoughts. Then put it into practice right away and see results. 10 Strategies to Stop Reacting and Start Responding (<- click on it)

Renew your mind and increase your faith with the Word of God:

“Like a city whose walls are broken through
    is a person who lacks self-control”
Proverbs 25:28
“A gentle answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger”
Proverbs 15:1
“Do not even associate with a man given to angry outbursts;
Or go [along] with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his
[undisciplined] ways and get yourself trapped [in a situation
from which it is hard to escape]”
Proverbs 22:24-25 (AMP)
“Better a patient person than a warrior,
    one with self-control than one who takes a city”
Proverbs 16:32
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, 
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law”
Galatians 5:22-23
“He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is
impulsive exalts folly. A sound heart is life to the body,
But envy is rottenness to the bones”
Proverbs 14:29-30
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power
and of love and of a sound mind”

II Timothy 1:7

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to
live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age”
Titus 2:11-12
“And be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a
fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude), and put on the
new self (the regenerated and renewed nature), created
in God’s image, (godlike) in the righteousness and holiness
of the truth (living in a way that expresses to God your
 gratitude for your salvation)”

Ephesians 4:23-24 (AMP)

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you
present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is
your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but
be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove
what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”

Romans 12:1-2

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