What do I really have control of? Not what other people do or say. Not most of the circumstances I end up dealing with. Not most of the experiences I go through. But whatever the situation or circumstances, what I can control is my response. It may not feel like I am in control in the heat of the moment when emotions are high, but the fact is I can control my attitude and behavior. For example, have you ever been spitting mad, but as soon as you get in front of another person you can miraculously reel it in and contain yourself?
My rule of thumb is, you have to make your decisions and I have to make mine. If you do or say something that I can’t live with that is your choice. Then I must decide what is best for me, my life and my family. We all have the power of choice. Blaming other people or circumstances is not productive and does not go anywhere you want to end up.
Not deciding is a choice to let other people decide for you.
What other people do is out of our control, but we get to choose who we allow to have influence on us. We get to choose who we allow to have access to us and to what extent. Here’s what I don’t have to do: I don’t have to let anyone manipulate me or take advantage of me for their selfish purposes. I’m not even going to pretend this is always easy but the fact is, we DO get to choose.
As experiences happen, our response defines the outcome we get and we can decide how to respond. Responding from our emotions often leads to thoughtless words and negative consequences. Taking time to think through the options and choose what is best for everyone involved will produce optimal results. For example, I recently responded in anger to a decision made by someone else and proceeded to obsess about how unfair, unjust and unwise it was. For weeks, I talked it to death and let it steal my joy. The outcome? I wasted a lot of time being unhappy and allowing my pride to rule my attitude. Getting angry and letting your emotions drive might feel better in the moment but can do permanent damage to relationships and even your career. Thinking big picture and taking a minute (or a couple of weeks!) to process your emotions and then implant a plan to mitigate the damages is much better in the long run. If the decision is something you find you cannot live with, then you may need a plan for exploring your career goals and options. The point is, what we choose affects the outcome we get. By changing our thinking, we change our actions and thus we change our outcomes.
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