We cannot control others but, we can control our reactions to others.
This line hit me hard the other day. I was put in a precarious situation as a middle-man, if you will, between two people. Let’s say, for story’s sake, I had to talk to someone about something that was “out of my control,” I was merely in the middle as “the messenger.” The subject could be construed as sensitive, to some, so I went about this in the most gentle and least dramatic way I thought appropriate while at the same time having to make this person aware of the situation.
Well, the response I received was short, defensive, and quite honestly not what I “expected” and, truly, it may not have even been intentional. Sometimes we fire off responses based purely on our gut reaction and we do not stop to think of the ramifications of our tone. My gut reaction to this response was that of “WTF” but I knew I would best be served by letting it sit for a moment before doing anything further. So, I went for a run.
I thought of this message, letting it take up a few moments of my consciousness while running, letting myself “feel” my feelings and then releasing it, letting it go (the run helped). During the run, I planned out how I would respond next and how best to steer this conversation into a more positive direction. It is interesting when we think about perspectives. Everyone has their own perception, their own filter of how they view things. No two people think or see exactly the same way —one person may view the sky as cornflower blue and another as Robin’s egg blue.
In that moment, I had a choice. I had control over my reaction which ultimately steered the path for an amicable outcome of the situation. I could have either responded in the same tone as was projected unto me or, I could take a moment, compose myself and respond in kind. I chose the latter. The situation could have resulted in turmoil, in hard feelings amongst all. It was a choice in that moment that I made to control my reaction. I am sure we have all been in similar situations.
And, hey, it is something that we consciously have to think about. To be present enough and aware of ourselves to forward think. It is not easy, by any means. We want to defend ourselves and make our point. And, we can! We can express the points we are needing to get across just as effectively if we do so clearly and without negative energy driven behind the message. Like building muscles, it takes lots of practice and I am still practicing this on a daily basis.
*** CHOICES ***
We all know we have choices yet we sometimes forget this and let the rush of that emotion rule our thought processes. We cannot control what others will say or what they will do. We can, however, control our reactions. And by controlling our reactions, we can either create happiness, peace, compassion, kindness, or we can create angst, negative energy, animosity, and misery — for ourselves and also for others. We may not even be aware of the energy we put forth in our reactions.
Here are a few things I have learned that have helped me along the way:
- Breathe! Take a deep breathe — this will calm down the nervous system. Take several deep inhales and exhales and feel the tension release in your body.
- Step away until you are in a calm state to respond — some things do not warrant a response to be fired off right away. And, would actually best be served if a moment (or few) pass before replying. Do something if you need to clear your head and bring your emotions back into equilibrium.
- Reply with kindness. The person on the receiving end will pick up the energy of the message and replying with kindness can even help put that person into a more positive state — cause and effect.
- Cause and Effect — by taking that step of not feeding into negative energy, we can hopefully control or steer the mood of the situation. The other person may then ease up in their tenseness and send back a more friendly message allowing for a cordial conversation. Someone once told me to smile while on the phone, the other person can “feel” that on the receiving end. I have found this to be true!
Pause, breathe, and take the higher road by sharing kindness.
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