“Every time you want to react in the same old way, ask yourself if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.” ~ Deepak Chopra
Do you ever listen to someone tell you a story and realize that although the characters may have changed or the events are a bit different, how the person reacted is exactly the same? Do you ever see that in yourself? Would the outcome be different if the reaction was different? What if you completely changed how you reacted and instead consciously responded? Would the situation improve? Would you feel different?
I was with a friend recently who was trying to explain to me that the behavior that I was questioning wasn’t personal, she treated everyone that way. As we were talking two other friends showed up and started laughing about how this person ghosts them often. The ability to not respond to a simple text or call back was just who they were. The person gets focused and caught up in their own life, doesn’t want to hear anything about anyone else, has their own issues so they just don’t respond to people. Her feelings are that “she needs her quiet time,” “needs time alone.” I tried to explain the impact it has on me, I didn’t care much for how others felt. I let her know that it feels as if I am uncared for, and completely insignificant which I didn’t feel for a long time in this friendship but now feel it often. Explaining yourself away with “that’s how I am,” doesn’t work for me. Life is about growing, about learning and about changing to become the best version of you. This can’t be a best version when you are hurting someone you profess to care about. Perhaps it is time to think about being a pioneer of the future, responding differently and not reacting.
As we consciously respond to situations in more constructive and growth oriented ways, we reduce stress and reduce the judgements that we place on people and situations. If we start from a place of opportunity and possibility we hurt others far less and therefore reduce the anxiety and stress of relationships. How often are we walking on eggshells with people, concerned about how they may react? Changing our reaction can change the other persons action as well. There was a point about 25 years ago when my mom pushed all my buttons. She would make a statement about my weight, or my comments, my thinking and I would jump down her throat. Her judgements of me caused me to react harshly. At one point we stopped talking for a while. My dad tried to intervene and I had to tell him to get out of the middle, no man can win between his wife and daughter! After reading a book called “The Dance of Anger,” I realized that my reaction needed to change to change the dance. At first it was really hard, but with practice I changed my reaction to her sometimes harsh comments. I laughed, made it a joke, told her she was right. Slowly that change in my reaction to more of a conscious response caused her to change her behavior. Our relationship went from hurtful and difficult to the best Mother/Daughter relationship! I had to learn to respond differently and pioneer a new relationship with her if I wanted to keep that relationship! I could have continued as a prisoner of the past and ruined the relationship for good, missing out on some 20plus years of a great mom/daughter relationship!
As I navigate some other relationships and situations I keep this in mind. How can I consciously respond differently so that I pioneer a new and better relationship with this person going forward versus the hurtful difficult one that it has become. How do I want to feel in this relationship and what do I need to do differently to pioneer a future with them or for myself? How do I reduce stress in my life and in this relationship, reducing expectations and reacting more calmly? I have come up with a few things that I do today that help:
- Breath. Belly breathing slowly by counting to 5 on the inhale and then 5 on the exhale, feeling the breathe in my belly not just my chest calms the nervous system down. It actually takes you out of Fight or Flight and moves you to Rest and Digest. By doing that you reduce cortisol and stress in your body. This first step helps you to think more clearly with multiple options versus reacting with anger, guilt, blame or other low energy negative responses.
- Consider the situation from the other person’s perspective. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, showing empathy allows you to use your compassion. When moving toward something from a place of compassion, you focus on the other person and how you can be of service instead of expecting them to do or change for you.
- Ask yourself what you want out of this situation? Do you want the relationship to continue and if so in what way? Focus on the outcome, meditate on it, write it down and give it to the universe. Do the work you need to do on you and don’t force things. Recently I knew that if I kept going the way I was I would never see this one person again, I would lose what I thought was an amazing friendship. And I wondered if this relationship had run it’s course and I should lose it. I decided to do something different in an attempt to let the relationship flow, let the universe guide me, instead of trying to force a situation or force it to be the natural relationship it once was. I made a decision and had 3 scenarios in my head. My focus was that the outcome of each scenario meant the universe was guiding me to either walk away or change my expectations. This all happened in a calm way without me being upset, without me being angry. I was emotionally prepared for any outcome, and knew to just let whatever was going to happen occur. I reduced the stress I felt and created a pathway for us to talk differently without blame, anger, frustration or guilt.
By not allowing myself to react in the old patterns but find new, more positive constructive ways to consciously respond to any situation I find I am much happier. I feel less stressed, and far less judgmental of others and most certainly of myself.
Being a pioneer of the future is far more fun, and allowing me to grow more as a person than being a prisoner of the past!