Growth & Change: Actions

9:52 AM

Photo by: CreateHer Stock

It took me a long time to accept the fact that I cannot control other people's actions. That sounds like a no-brainer, but really think about it. How often are you in a good mood and then an irrational driver cuts you off in traffic, and suddenly you become filled with road rage, you speed up, flip them off, and race away? We often will change our actions/responses according to how others behave.

For example, I once had a co-worker who had the worst attitude in the mornings. Most days, this co-worker would walk in the door and not speak to anyone. At first, I took it personal. When they would walk in the door, I would immediately feel tension. I eventually stopped speaking in the morning, to accommodate the culture this co-worker was creating. It got to the point where everyone in the office would be quiet for an hour or so in the morning. Over a few months, the mood became grumpy.

Finally one day, I thought - WAIT A MINUTE! This is just not who I am. Sure this co-worker may be in a bad mood every morning. I can't control their actions. But I can control my own. I decided from that day forward that not only would I cheerfully say, "Good morning!" every day, I would also play music to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. I started arriving to work early to ensure that I had time to settle in before this colleague arrived so that we could set a different tone in the building.

And you know what? It worked! My colleagues became more joyful. We laughed more. By not allowing that one person's actions to determine my response, I became more of myself.

The example above is a little bit easier to digest. But what about when it's hard? What about when you and your significant other have gotten into a huge fight and you're both waiting to see who will be the first to apologize? What about when your family member says something racist and you have the opportunity to speak out, but you hesitate? What about when there is an injustice happening in your workplace, something that goes against your values - how do you respond?

This idea that you cannot control other people's actions is real. But you can control your actions. You can control how you respond. You can decide to speak up in that meeting when something sexist was said. You can call out that family member for their racism. And on the lighter side, you can still choose to say, "Thank you!" to the cashier who was rude to you while you were checking out at the corner store.

A huge step on the journey to becoming unapologetically yourself is to acknowledge that you matter. 

How you respond when the actions of others are less than ideal add to your character, for better or worse. Your actions and responses matter.

Your voice is important. Your perspective is valuable. Your presence has significance

You cannot control other people's actions, but you can control your response. And that gives you even more freedom to be you.


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