Action vs. Reaction: A Path to Personal Mastery

In this episode of ‘The Anti-Guru Guru Show,’ Chris Walker explores the crucial difference between action and reaction in the pursuit of personal mastery and inner wealth. While riding his bike, Chris delves into how our responses to pain and discomfort shape our journey, emphasising the power of enduring pain without letting it turn into suffering. He offers practical strategies to stay on track, including avoiding complaints, time-limiting discomfort, and clearly defining goals. Tune in for insights on maintaining personal power and progressing efficiently towards your aspirations.


Note the podcast was cut off just 2 min before it was completed.

Good morning, good afternoon, wherever you are. This is Chris Walker. As I share my thoughts today, I’ll be riding a bike. Our discussion will focus on a crucial aspect of personal mastery: the concept of action versus reaction. Through this lens, we’ll explore how our responses shape our journey towards inner wealth and personal power.

The Essence of Personal Mastery

When delving deeply into the realm of personal mastery and inner wealth, one discovers a multitude of choices. These choices boil down to a few essential comparatives. Among these, the distinction between action and reaction is paramount.

Understanding Action

To act means to stay focused and undistracted by external influences. It’s not about ignoring empathy or consideration, nor does it imply narcissism. Instead, it signifies a steadfast commitment to your goals, unaffected by external circumstances. When we act, we maintain our personal power, working diligently towards our objectives without being derailed by the environment or other people.

Reaction and Its Pitfalls

In contrast, reaction signifies a loss of personal power. When we react to external stimuli—be it circumstances or the actions of others—we deviate from our path. Reactionary behaviour often stems from historical influences, such as past experiences, memories, and learned expectations. These reactions empower the very things we wish to change, thereby extending our journey and complicating our progress.

The Impact of Reaction on Personal Power

When we react, especially to negative stimuli, we inadvertently give power to those influences. This can be observed in daily interactions, such as reacting angrily to a child’s behaviour. By reacting, we empower the child, potentially encouraging the very behaviour we seek to correct. This dynamic applies broadly, from personal relationships to professional settings.

Pain, Reaction, and the Long Road

Pain—whether spiritual, mental, social, financial, relational, or physical—often triggers a reaction. This reaction can divert us from our path, leading us down a longer, more arduous journey. The key to maintaining a direct and efficient route to our goals lies in our ability to manage pain without reacting.

The Power of Endurance

Learning to endure pain without allowing it to turn into suffering is crucial. When we can compartmentalize pain and view it as temporary, we prevent it from becoming suffering, which necessitates a reaction. This endurance allows us to remain on the path of action, progressing steadily towards our goals.

Practical Examples: Home and Work

Consider a scenario at home where your spouse’s actions cause you frustration or pain. Reacting with complaints or anger rarely results in positive behavioural change. Similarly, in the workplace, reacting to unmet expectations or performance issues by complaining does not solve the underlying problems. Instead, it often exacerbates them, particularly in environments driven by low consciousness and emotional responses.

The Role of HR and Organizational Consciousness

In professional settings, the efficacy of complaints is contingent on the consciousness level of the organisation. High-consciousness businesses handle complaints with a focus on genuine resolution and growth, whereas low-consciousness businesses may respond superficially, driven by immediate emotional needs.

Physical Pain: Training and Resilience

Physical pain, such as the strain experienced during rigorous exercise, offers a clear analogy. When we know the duration of pain, it becomes manageable and does not lead to suffering. Regular training increases our tolerance, enabling us to endure greater levels of pain without reaction.

Strategies to Stay on Track

So, how do we stay on track and ensure we act rather than react? Here are a few strategies:

  1. Don’t Complain: Avoid complaining about yourself or others. Recognise that every human has every human quality.
  2. Time-Limit Discomfort: Define any discomfort as a time-limited experience. Whether it’s heartbreak, depression, or anger, acknowledge it as temporary to prevent it from turning into suffering.
  3. Know Your Goals: Clearly define what you are acting towards. Action is not about adhering to a set of moral codes or principles but about moving towards your desired outcome. Make sure your goals encompass all seven areas of life to avoid living a one-sided existence.

The Importance of Preparation

As I prepare for a cardiovascular bike riding test tomorrow, this process highlights the importance of preparation. Training the day before a race builds confidence and readiness, even if it feels like fatigue. It helps me act with enthusiasm, knowing the pain is temporary and part of a larger goal.

Embracing Pain with Enthusiasm

Understanding that pain is necessary to achieving fitness and health goals allows me to embrace it with enthusiasm. The end goal, such as being fit for backpacking trips in the Alps or New Zealand, makes the pain bearable. I can endure pain without reacting negatively by focusing on the desired outcome.


In life, whether dealing with physical challenges, personal relationships, or professional environments, the key to progress lies in choosing action over reaction. By managing our responses to pain and discomfort, clearly defining our goals, and avoiding complaints, we maintain our personal power and stay on the path to success.

Thank you for tuning in to ‘The Anti-Guru Guru Show.’ If you enjoyed this post, share it with a friend who needs a reality check. Until next time, keep it real, keep it messy, and keep practising. See you soon!

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