We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we can always choose how to react, and those reactions can have a huge impact for yourself and others. Let me give you some examples.
The people in your life whether it is your children, your colleagues, or others are always watching how you handle things. Your reaction especially in difficult situations can be a learning experience for someone else. I had a tough morning years ago when my husband was away on business. I had heard the dog running up and down the stairs all night, but I was too tired to go see why she was doing that. The next morning, I got up and got my three-year-old ready for daycare. I was walking up the stairs to wake up my two teenagers when my oldest screamed. I ran up the stairs and saw that the dog had used the long hall as a bathroom…the entire hall, and behind my son’s door the dog had been sick. My teenagers were staring at me waiting for me to explode, but I picked up the three-year-old who was thinking of playing with what was on the floor, and I said calmly, “I don’t know when I have time to clean this. O.k., I’ll be right back.” I took my youngest to daycare and when I came home to pick up my son and daughter I realized they had cleaned up the majority of the mess. All I had to do later was to steam clean the carpet. If I had lost my mind and yelled the situation would only have been worse. Take a minute and take a few deep breaths before you react.
If you can take the emotion out of your reaction it can possibly diffuse the situation. My husband and I often have a difference of opinion when it comes to politics. I have discovered that it is difficult for him to discuss something without becoming angry. I found that I can deflate that anger if I remain calm and continue to ask questions. It makes talking about current events so much more fun.
Before you react to something someone says make sure you understand the meaning behind it. I often misunderstand what someone actually meant to say. Also, understand where anger or frustration is coming from. When it’s possible use kindness to meet frustration and dissect where anger is originating.
I was once filling out an online form to order a national test for my students, but nothing was working. I worked myself up, and I was so angry that when I called the woman in charge, I unleashed an angry barrage about how awful the website was. The woman stayed calm and graciously walked me through the sign-up process. When we were done I thanked her and told her that the next time someone was a jerk to me, I was going to be as wonderful to that person as she had been to me.
Your reaction can be a game-changer, so choose it wisely.
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