Think about how you respond to things that happen because this way you have the power over how you feel and what you experience, don’t give that power away to someone or something else.
I’ve talked about this before I know, but it is a really important thing to remember. You may not be able to change events that happen or situations that you find yourself in, and you can’t help the things that other people do, but you can take control of how you respond or react. This is what makes the difference to your experience.
A perfect example of this happened today. I received a distressed and irate telephone call from a man who had just experienced a disagreement with this driver on his bus to work. The situation was quite minor intially, the driver refused to accept a bank note which had a slight tear in it. The man had no other cash with him and had begun to argue with the driver that the note should be accepted as it was only slightly damaged and not in any significant area of the note, so was still legal tender. The driver was adamant and would not allow the man onto the bus, and left. The impact of this was that the man felt very frustrated and angry, for several reasons, he had not been able to get the driver to see his point of view, he would now have to go to the bank and then get a later bus, he would be late for work, and start the day by having to call his employer and apologise for this lateness, and accept whatever consequences this would bring. He decided that his day had taken a downward turn right from the start and he faced further delays and aggravation, so in sheer frustration he decided to go home.
It was at this point where he realised he needed some direction, that I received the telephone call. We discussed that he was unable to change the circumstances he found himself in, whether the driver was justified or not was no longer important, as it couldn’t be changed. But this was the main source of his frustration as he felt the driver was wrong and had caused him lots of problems. We had to accept this had happened and then decide how to respond. If he responded as his immediate reaction, to get angry and go home frustrated, he would have to telephone his boss and make an excuse not to go in to work. This would affect the rest of his staff team, his work record and result in him losing a days wages. The alternative, which was much harder for him to do, was to accept what happened, realise that staying angry with the driver was just storing the negative energy and preventing him moving on. He needed to telephone his boss, apologise for being late but promising to be on the next available bus. In his frustration though, he just wanted to write off the rest of the day.
I asked him to think of a days wages and what this meant to him in real terms. Several days food shopping for the family? The electricity bill paid for this month? His mobile phone bill? Clothes for himself or the children? As all of his anger and frustration was directed at the bus driver I asked him whether he would be prepared to hand a days wages, in cash, to the driver. Obviously he wasn’t. I then asked him whether he was prepared to give the driver the power to take away his days wages, preventing him from paying for whatever he would have spent it on. He wasn’t prepared to allow the driver (as he saw it, although really it was the whole situation that had occured) to have this much control, and when it was put to him this way he felt able to respond in a more useful way. He was still frustrated with the situation, and understandably so, it’s not a great start to the day, but he was then able to take positive steps to resolve it.
So, next time you find yourself reacting to a situation or person in a way that isn’t useful to you, make a conscious effort to stop and rethink the response and make it a more positive outcome for you.
Please feel free to share your experiences of this in the comments.