Consider your responses and actions; they are the visible expressions of who you are.
I’ve been the recipient of more unexpected changes in my life over the last few months than I care to remember. Many of them have tried my patience and forced me to stop and reflect on who I am, what’s important to me, and what is really mine to do.
I have taken to reading a few key “rules” to remember every day. They’re things that I wrote, and have put together into a list called my Emergent Manifesto. They are things I’ve learned in growing through these changes, and I think ideas that can help live more fully.
One of the rules states:
Consider your actions and responses.
My actions and responses are the most visible expression of who I am. I know that I can improve or ruin a situation based on what I say or do.
My thoughts haven’t always been very positive about these changes, and for a while I gave voice to those thoughts and (generally) ended up creating issues for myself and those around me. And so while I wish I could change my thinking with the flip of the switch, I can absolutely change what I say. I can change my actions.
I’ve also been reminded that saying that I’m going to do something is a whole lot different from doing it. I’ve heard multiple variations on the saying that “Bad news doesn’t get better with time.” Unfortunately, (a) knowing that doesn’t make it easier to share something bad or to do something I don’t want to do, and (b) DAMN IT, the saying is true. I’ve found that by taking action, rather than putting it off, has helped me to deal with these changes and be much more comfortable in the uncertainty. More often than not, taking action (however unpleasant) has been a lot less work than worrying about it.
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychologist who spent 3 years in concentration camps during World War II. In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” he wrote:
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
When announcements come, diagnoses are made, or other bad things happen, I know that how I respond can change the situation. The response doesn’t change the facts, and at the same time for me it makes them easier to acknowledge and deal with. When others around me are angry or upset, my pausing to consider my response generally allows me to calm the situation a bit. When it doesn’t calm things, at least it doesn’t escalate the situation forward.
Focusing on my response and carefully taking action allows me to move ahead, even if the situation appears untenable.
The next time things seem like they aren’t going your way, consider your actions and responses.
I appreciate constructive or differing opinions in my comments, but choose not to react to flames.