Choose your reactions. Why is this so important?
- They dictate who you are perceived to be
- It’s who you really are
- Can give your personal power away
Oh and they could be making you fat.
Who you are perceived to be versus who you are actually are, may be two different things. But the fact is, to other people, you are that person they perceive you to be, not you. Does that make sense?
This is not about conforming or being fake. It’s about embracing the fact that how you react and in essence how you conduct yourself, creates “who you are” to other people.
If you don’t care what others think of you, fine. Butt be aware that how you are perceived, as in who they think you are, will affect how they treat you and what they say to other people about you. Again you may not care, but how you are perceived, particularly in the work place, can be vitally important.
So, what to do with this?
Don’t become paranoid or try to be someone you are not.
BUT always have in the back of your mind that opinions are being formed about you. Be conscious, particularly if you are experiencing friction with certain people, that their perception of you may not be in alignment and it may be time to adjust the approach.
Who are you?
Forget your reactions in the good times. I’m more interested in your reactions during the bad times because this uncovers the real person. Are you one of those “really nice” or “calm” people that crumple into a ball of stress or anger when times get tough?
If you are, then this particularly relevant for you.
You are a sum of your choices and your reactions and it’s a case of learning how to stop reacting on instinct and to respond to any situation constructively.
Reactions are natural and are there to keep us alive. This is relevant if being chased by a bear or tiger, but not relevant when opening a huge gas bill that you can’t afford.
It’s a case of learning how to stop yourself from flying off the handle. Installing a gate keeping mechanism to make you compute a situation before reacting to it.
Getting yourself upset or stressed is not going to change the situation in front of you anyway. All it’s going to do is send cortisol levels through the roof leaving a layer of fat on your tummy! Plus what’s the point of getting upset over things you can’t change? It’s happened.
Learning how to control your reactions takes time, but you can do it with practise and you will feel so much better for it. You need to establish a good system for doing this. Try to be more philosophical about life in general, as I said above, if something bad has already happened, you can’t change it, so what is the point in boiling up in anger over it?
Ultimately, whenever you react poorly, you give you power away.
As soon as you allow someone to push your buttons, you have given your power to that person.
I’m not advocating you should never express how you truly feel or put up with abuse or bullying, no.
What I am saying is, on a day to day basis, don’t react in a way that gives your power to somebody else.
I like this paragraph from the book Boundaries by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend:
“When you react to something someone says or does, you may have a problem with boundaries. If someone is able to cause havoc by doing or saying something, she is in control of you at that point and your boundaries are lost.
When you respond, you remain in control with opinions and choices. If you feel yourself reacting, step away and regain control of yourself so family members can’t force you to do or say something you do not want to do or say; something that violates your separateness.
When you have kept your boundaries choose the best option. The difference between responding and reacting is choice, When are reacting they are in control. When you respond, you are.”
So they are talking about the difference between reacting and responding. The reaction is the impulse driven action whereas responding is the controlled, manipulated action. The best action being the response of course.
Look at it another way. Think of a time in your life when someone has been incredibly rude to you and you chose to either not react or even better you responded with kindness.
How do you think it made them feel?
Embarrassed? Insignificant? Unnerved? Apologetic?
How did it make you look and feel?
Your reaction is one of your most powerful assets in your personal armoury so use it wisely and use it to your advantage.
Be tactical and analyse in which situations you need take control of your reactions to respond constructively and have a strategy of how you should respond.
- If you are brave ask a selection of 10 people of varying degrees of friendship what they think of you, particularly when you first met? If you find the same description comes up more than 3 times then take note. This is how you are generally perceived. If there is negative feedback, what can you do going forward to alter this behaviour?
- Think back to situations where you haven’t reacted how you wish you had. Analyse how in the future you will react if that situation arises again? Talk it over with a partner, friend or colleague. Work out a strategy you can call on in the future.
- Identify what your values are and try to ensure that every interaction you have abides by those values.
- Establish a gate keeping system that you can call upon in an emergency. Could be going for a walk, listening to classical music, going to the gym or meditating. Work out what works for you.
- Meditation is proven to help reduce stress levels. The benefits can be gained by as little as 10 minutes a day. Find a meditation teacher, download an App.
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