You can’t make me get upset, be sad, get angry, feel badly, be hurt, or anything else. You can’t make me do something if I don’t choose to do it. You can’t make me say something I’ll regret. You can’t make me behave poorly, act out, fly off the handle, or storm off. You can’t make me do, say or feel anything. It’s all my choice.
Likewise, no one can make you behave in a way you don’t want to. You always have the choice of how you wish to respond to any given situation.
Reactions are knee-jerk and tend to happen very quickly, without any thought or editing involved. Whereas, responses are thought-out, edited, and considered beforehand. I know this may seem like semantics, but it helps to clearly define what we’re talking about here.
When someone says something rude or inconsiderate to you, do you react or respond? Do you reply without thought? Or do you consider your words and choose your emotional state?
Do you react out of the pain that their words might have triggered in you? Or do you choose what your internal climate will be, choose to respond from your heart, and speak with care?
Here’s how you can tell: Do you frequently find yourself saying something and then later wishing you could take it back, alter the tone a bit, or change a certain word? If so, then you are reacting to others. If this sounds like you, then consider this a wonderful opportunity to learn how to respond differently.
The way to take ownership of your words and actions is to begin to catch yourself reacting. Begin by noticing after the reaction occurs. Notice how quickly you reacted to the other person’s comment or behavior. Notice how you felt when you replied. Notice the impact your reply had on the other person. Notice how you felt afterwards. Just notice, without judging yourself as wrong.
Next, see if you can catch yourself closer to the time it is occurring, in other words while you’re reacting. Again, just watch, observe and notice, without judgment. When you are able to do this, next start catching yourself before you actually react. THIS is when the really noticeable change occurs!
Now that you’re able to catch yourself BEFORE you react, you can take a moment to choose how you’d like to respond. You can choose to release any emotions attached to the situation. You can choose to run the words you’re thinking through your heart first, to soften them, and select the most appropriate words.
You can take a moment and think about the impact that your chosen words might have on the other person. You can take a deep breath or two. And then, when you’re sure you are pleased with your choices, you can respond to the situation or person.
When you do this, once again notice how you feel while you’re responding. Notice the impact on the other person. Notice how you feel afterwards. And (you guessed it!), do this without judging yourself.
That’s it! That’s what it takes to make the transition from being reactionary to being responsive…from saying knee-jerk, thoughtless comments to offering well-thought-out, edited comments that you won’t later regret.
Remember to be kind and gentle with yourself…you are an amazing person with a beautiful heart — and now you’ll get to share that with everyone you meet, regardless of their behavior choices.
Try this and let me know how it goes…