Managing your reactions to events

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What causes your storms?  Photo by Josep Castells on Unsplash

One thing you can be sure of, is that, soon, something will happen which challenges your ability to remain calm.

It might be that your car breaks down.  Or someone might be disrespectful towards you.  Or you might lose something.  Or have something stolen.  You will know better than me what tends to trigger a negative reaction in you.

What do all these things have in common, and why do they tend to provoke us?

COMMON FACTORS IN GETTING UPSET

Feel free to make your own list of things that cause you to get angry, frustrated or upset.

Then perhaps test them against this list of questions:

Let’s assume that we have encountered ‘Thing X’.  ‘Thing X’, or ‘X’, is a situation, person or object that has caused a reaction in you.

  1. Did X stop you doing what you wanted?
  2. Did X make you feel trapped?
  3. Did X make you look inferior in the eyes of others?
  4. Did X make you feel incapable?
  5. Did X take away your sense of control?
  6. Did X make you feel tired?
  7. Did X remove resources from you?
  8. Did X make you feel afraid or vulnerable?
  9. Did X take away your sense that things were predictable?
  10. Did X defy your sense of logic?
THE USUAL ASSUMPTIONS WE MAKE

The above 10 questions relate to 3 key assumptions we take through our day:

  1. I am free
  2. I am powerful
  3. I am safe and certain
If we live our days on the assumption that we are free to do what we want, then we will constantly encounter things that ‘get in the way’.  Not surprisingly, this will result in frustration.

Similarly, if we live our days on the assumption that we are all-powerful, then we will constantly encounter things that challenge that assumption.  The more powerful we think we are, the more angry we may become when life is plainly not like that.

And finally, if we live our days assuming that everything is always safe and certain… then we will constantly encounter events which break us and our perception of life.  We will be constantly disappointed.

AN EXERCISE

Just for today, make the opposite assumption.  Go into the world thinking:

  1. I am not free, but I will adapt
  2. I am not all-powerful, but I will adapt
  3. Nothing is safe or certain, but I will adapt
See if this gives you a better ability to roll with the waves.  Watch your responses to events, and see if you feel less frustration, anger and resentment.

SUMMARY

We get upset.

Usually, this is because we mistakenly assume that we are free, powerful, and secure.

This is not true.

By dropping these false assumptions, we will be less upset when life shows us not to be free, powerful or safe.

What is more, we will be more adaptable.

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