The riots in Baltimore offer a great learning opportunity. It’s no secret that the consequences of acting without thought are far-reaching and damaging to self and others. We all retain that primal instinct to lash out when touched by pain or injustice, but all of us also have within us the capacity to choose how we respond.
Nelson Mandela once said, “People respond in accordance to how you relate to them. If you approach them on the basis of violence, that’s how they’ll react. But if you say, ‘We want peace, we want stability,’ we can then do a lot of things that will contribute towards the progress of our society.”
Today, ask yourself what challenges you face as you interact with people day-to-day, at work, at home or out in the world? What is it about the behavior of others that confounds you and drives you nuts? Take a moment. Give it thought.
Wherever you are as you’re reading this – at home, in your workplace or on a park bench – glance around. With whom do you have the most trouble engaging without feeling defensive, annoyed or undervalued? Do you have difficulty hearing certain people out, particularly when you disagree? Is it hard for you to remain open to others’ ideas and allow their suggestion to prevail at the expense of your own? Notice the patterns that begin to emerge.
Don’t give into the LIES that Limit your ability to control how you interact with even the most troublesome people who cross your path. These LIES are the Labels, Illusions, Excuses and Stories that trap you in unwanted, often destructive, places. If you want to be in charge of your thoughts, feelings and reactions, get familiar with your patterns. These are your trigger points. Strengthen your awareness of what consistently annoys you, disappoints you, angers you, sets you off. Awareness is the first step in the process of responsible self-management.
Once you’re able to identify your triggers, you can turn what you perceive as offenses or obstacles into opportunities. Take the emotionally intelligent route by consciously choosing how you’ll react. Focus on ways to fix yourself and your reaction to others rather than spending your energy trying to force them to become what you think they should be.
Good self-management is something we all have the capacity for. It’s a gift that comes with being human. Take in this message, and share it with those you care about.