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Monday, 25 November 2019

'I Can't Control What Happens & The People Involved, But I Can Change How I Respond To It & Them'

By Waiching

I have had a difficult week at work during this/last week, and this post pretty much sums up my thoughts, but also in writing this, this has given me plenty of food for thought as I contemplate on and re-evaluate my actions, decisions and my own self, as I continue in my personal efforts on self-improvement.

Quite often in life, we are faced with situations and predicaments that are beyond or out of our control and we can't do anything about it. Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Not him, not her, not them - not anyone. Why? Because you can't change the other person and undoing what s/he did or said. If change is to take place, this will occur by him/herself. By tying or being dependent on our self-worth or happiness to another person, place or thing, we end up breaking down -, and even perhaps losing a part of ourselves too.

Everything and anything can go wrong, and we can't anticipate when this happens and I don't have any control over it. I can take action before it gets worse, but when the problem occurs and is worse, I cannot undo it. What I do have control over, however, is the outcome of it: my reactions to the things that do go wrong. The issue with this is, however, by choosing the wrong reactions, these can make others unhappy and make things worse. For me, by getting worked up, tempers flare and in allowing my frustrations to boil over, it makes me feel 10x worse. & plus, this is equally damaging for my own state of mind. 

You just can not allow other people and situations to initiate change, nor dictate and determine your own happiness or self-worth - my happiness comes from within me and these changes and decisions that I make through my actions and behaviours, takes time, patience and effort. 

In a moment of madness and as a gut reaction, depending on the severity of the situation from one's perspective, it can be difficult to be compassionate and show empathy towards someone who did you wrong and assuming they are the root cause of the perceived problem.

But by figuring out and deciphering what their and my flaws are and placing yourself in their shoes, looking inwards and trying to see it from their perspective, might explain why s/he might be the way they are. Besides, we are all human, we all make mistakes, we have our flaws and imperfections. It's just that for some of us, we don't deal too well when they let loose their behaviours onto us, especially those that border on the extreme and toxic.

When we react when our buttons get pushed, we do this to satisfy and serve our own emotional needs, and less so other peoples, and not in a logical, rational manner. Psychologist John M. Grohol Psy.D further adds when s/he touches one of the emotional needs of our own, our own response will be one that will not make a whole lot of sense to others or the other person. In other words, even though it does not mean a lot to them, we may feel differently about it. 

Reaction vs Response

We are responsible for our emotional reactions: when you react or you are in a 'reactive' state, whom you react to we are asserting blame, & in doing so you have taken your power and given it to them and they thrive on it. With responding this can be seen as a form of emotional intelligence; it involves thinking things through and taking the time to analyse before you reach your conclusion, choosing how to act based on values such as reason, compassion, patience and understanding>> response = responsibility. I had experienced a negative incident at work recently and my emotional reaction was one of reaction and not response. I wasn't thinking straight in what I was saying and neither did I consider the implications of it, either. I didn't understand the pros and cons of the situation, nor did I see the perspective of the other side (i.e. the person/s that I upset). I was too consumed with anger and confusion. By opting for the emotional reaction, I just never gave any considerable thought into what I was doing and with that, ultimately, I made the wrong choice.  

In theory, response sounds easy, - yet in reality and practice, for some, it sounds difficult to initiate ...and it is; they have emotional triggers, and we too have ours, - but I've come to realise that I and you must, or be it try to respond without and to resist emotion; do not let emotion get the better of, or be it brings out the worst in you. Emotion is a personal and intuitive thing to have and behold, but especially during times when things go wrong, it needs to be kept under control. As it can be a struggle for me to take out all emotion and feeling, at most I need to control my emotions, rather than for the emotions to control me: if this is not managed properly, this becomes negative AND emotional, and we end up saying or doing the things we, later on, regret in life. Just pause, take a deep breath, count to ten and take as much time as you want to respond. Sure, you can't just blow off or shrug off every situation that goes wrong; sometimes you need to address it, head-on. In theory, perhaps.

I sometimes make the terrible mistake of reacting, as opposed to responding in certain situations and in the face of fear, - and ultimately, I reap what I sow; I paid the heavy price for that. Newton's third law states that every action has an equal or opposite reaction, & he is right: by reacting out of anger or frustration or by retaliating, the consequences or impact will be as, or even worse. By responding, however, one reduces the emotional solution to a logical/methodical solution and thus leading to better or neutral outcomes for all.

Depending on the severity of the situation, perhaps if we paid less attention to and do not dwell too much on the things s/he says or does that gets under our skin by ignoring it completely and/or blocking it from our memory, and instead, thinking strong, positive things about ourselves to make us feel good on the inside, by being assertive, we'd be far happier. Of course, if someone is being mistreated in a physical, psychological, mental sense, this isn't healthy at all: it's in-condonable, inexcusable and even worse, it excuses bad and abusive behaviour.

By all means, if s/he is unwilling to change and work on eradicating their negative behaviours, then that's their own issue - not mines. By practising on mindfulness, benevolence and being mindful of my emotional reactions and taking responsibility for them, is the way forward. As mentioned, I can't change the other person, I can't undo the mistake I made... but by learning from it, not embrace their negative behaviours, yet removing ourselves from the situation, to calm down and not act out of emotion but to respond based on logic and in an appropriate and firm manner. 

In working around him/her to come to a compromise and a better understanding of him/her, and still not excuse what they did/said, is a sign of progress. That, and it is the most thoughtful and compassionate acknowledgement, and one that will satisfy and please all parties involved. 

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