In the past 4 days, I have reacted wisely in several situations. In addition, I spoke with others who shared their feelings about how a reaction can enhance or diminish the energy of a situation. So I thought if we all can take responsibility only for what we do and say then that would free us. To be free would mean that we need to look at ourselves and when engaging with others, we should react thoughtfully and carefully in the situation. Below are a few areas that I will free myself:
• Stop Criticizing Others – When faced with the opportunity to criticize others, I will stop and refocus. I will consider the actions that will help me make the situation positive and address the real issue in the situation rather than the person’s behavior.
• Stop to Process – Many years ago, I was in a very anxious state and I told my therapist that I could not make a decision (which of course only heightened my anxiety). She looked at me and very directly said, “Then don’t make one.” It didn’t occur to me that I didn’t have to make a decision. She explained to me that if trying to make the decision was causing such anxiety, then stop, wait, and when you are ready, you will make the decision. She never spoke of right or wrong. She just made me understand that if I couldn’t decide, then I didn’t have to and with some time, I would either make a decision or the universe would take care of it. And that is exactly what happened. This is advice that I use to this day both in my personal and professional life.
• Be Kind – When my daughter was younger and asked why some kids are mean, my answer was that most mean kids are sad first. I tried to explain to her that when kids are sad, they act out in mean ways. This often led to a discussion of why one of her friends was being mean and she would give me a few reasons why her friend might be sad. For example, the girl’s brother was mean to her, a grandparent just died, or she was having trouble at school. In that moment, my daughter showed great compassion. After some of these discussions with her, I thought, this is an exercise that I need to apply to my interactions. And so I did. If I am in an uncomfortable situation, I consider that there is something more going on with this person than our simple interaction. When someone overreacts to a situation, I ask, “Is everything all right, can I help?” When someone is upset with me, I try to apologize first and then work out the problem. In my experience, most people want to hear “I’m sorry,” whether that solves the problem or not. It is the simple acknowledgement of their anger and then we can move onto solution.
• Stay in Solution – In my very first job after college, I had a boss that made it clear that the phrase, “I can’t” was unacceptable as an excuse. She told me that if you can’t complete a task, come back with a solution. I have taken that lesson seriously and tried always to find the solution in any problem. Now, 25 years later, I try to pass that onto to junior executives and fundraisers. In my office, we call it the “Solution Room.” This is definitely a lesson that I hold dear, that makes a visible impact on energy of the team, and works in every aspect of my life.
I’m on the road to freedom! Hope to run into you.