Our lives are defined by the choices we make and our responses or reactions to things that happen to or around us.
We cannot control what others may say or do, but we do have control over ourselves. For instance, someone you care about is making poor choices, you cannot make choices for them but you have choices on how you let that affect you. You can stop interacting with that person, stop participating in the bad choice activities, let them know your feelings, etc. Someone tries to start an argument with you, you can engage in the argument, walk away and tell them you’re not interested in discussing or whatever response you feel is appropriate.
You have control over your response, although sometimes we just react. First of all, keep in mind that this is completely normal, however if you want to take control of your life you need to use your power to control your emotions or response. Below are a couple of suggestions on how to do this:
Pause, be silent & think: If you’re in a situation that you need to respond to in short order, take a few minutes to think. I suggest counting to 10 before making a decision. Don’t let the silence scare you, use it to think clearly. Think about how your response will affect the outcome of the situation and the longer term effects of that decision. Sometimes counting to 10 seems like a long time, as pointed out by a young man I was working with. He told me he just made bad decisions sometimes. The decisions he was referring to usually involved some type of action that would land him in trouble. I asked why he thought he kept making bad decisions and he responded with I just don’t think. At that point I asked if he would do me a favor and before he made a decision to do something to silently count to 10. He paused, looked up as if looking to the sky then looked me straight in the eye and said, “10 is a lot”! I laughed and asked if we could start with 5. Do you best to stop, be silent and think before you act.
10-10-10: The other technique I suggest is one that is better suited for decisions that you have time to evaluate. When making a decision think about how it will affect you 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. Let me start by saying the 10’s are just a number to signify short, intermediate and long term. So for instance I had someone who had been looking for a job, she had been unhappy in her job for quite some time. She ended up with two offers and decided which one to accept. When she turned in her notice to her employer they presented her with an unbelievable counter offer. At that point she had another decision to make so we discussed using this method.
If she stays- 10 minutes: feel good – more money – move on. 10 months: same environment – harder to find a job at the new pay level, still unhappy but making more. 10 years: still there feeling stuck and unhappy.
If she leaves- 10 minutes: feel relieved to have made a decision, excited about new opportunity, still making more that current. 10 months: new environment, learning new things, not feeling stuck. 10 years: happy, enlightened
She made the choice to accept the new position and move on. She realized that money would not change what made her unhappy in her current job and she had an amazing opportunity to grow and move on.
This process is outlined in the free Surviving to Thriving 10 week e-course if you’d like to learn more sign up to the right.
Take control over what you do have power over – use these tools to make decisions that allow you to affect the outcome the way that is best for you.