Provocation Response
& Ownership

24 January 2022

Provocation Response
& Ownership

Whatever the provocation, you own your response. So the difference is mainly in your response, which you can do something about....

Imagine a circle separated into two halves. To the left is provocation. A provocation is anything that happens to us, or impacts on us, that we’d rather didn’t. It can be something everyday, and relatively small scale, such as being delayed in a traffic jam, or a significant and major life event, such as illness or redundancy. On the opposite side of the circle is our response. Our reaction to the provocation. Provocations are external. They come to us from the outside world – any time, any place, anywhere. From ‘out there’. As such we have no control over them happening; we have no choice. If we live a normal life, we will face many, many provocations. Stuff-just-happens. By contrast our response is internal. It comes from within us, from in here. And, as such, we can control our response, we have a choice. Two people facing an identical provocation will respond differently. For example, imagine being stuck in a traffic jam. You could choose to fume and get stressed, which certainly doesn’t improve you, or move the traffic along. Or you could choose a number of less stressful, more positive, responses: listening to some music, a radio programme, an audible book – or to do those things we say we have no time to do: to think, to plan, to reflect. Generally most people fall into one of two categories. Provocation focused, or response focused. People who are provocation focused tend to blame the situation, and the effect it has on them. Since the fault comes from ‘out there’, they tend to expect – to wait for – the solution to come from ‘out there’ too. So they tend to avoid taking any responsibility: “whoever or whatever is responsible for the problem and my misery, it isn’t me”. As a consequence, nothing improves. The situation remains as it was, static; and the individual remains passive, waiting for the solution to arrive. And when, as is often, it doesn’t, they can become a victim: “why does all this keep happening to me?” On the other hand, response-focused people tend to take ownership of the situation. They tend to ask two questions: 1) am I responsible in any way for what is happening? and 2) even if I’m not, what’s my best response to what’s happening? In this way they take charge of both the situation and their feelings about it. They take action, and knowing they have choices they can make, they can choose the most positive of all the options available, they have a greater sense of freedom and empowerment about living in a provocation-rich world. So, it’s up to each of us to decide whether we want to live our lives in a provocation-focused way, or a response-focused way. And two final thoughts. Responsibility can be seen as response-ability: the ability to respond in the most appropriate and helpful way – for yourself, and for others. And, a mantra:

whatever the provocation

I own my response

the difference is in my response

the difference is in me

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