Have you ever thought to yourself, “life would just be so much easier if [insert event, complication, person, etc.] weren’t around?”
But would it? What would life be like without person/event/complication? In most situations, those very obstacles make us the people we are capable of being. The real trick is learning how to be more present in those moments to judge them less and understand them more, to respond and not react. Consider the person who regrets something they’ve said as soon as the words leave their mouth. Reaction. Consider the person who hits instead of talks. Reaction.
Now consider the consequences of those actions.
But what if instead of reacting, of saying something you didn’t mean or doing something you didn’t mean to do, you let yourself take a moment to observe, consider the information available and choose how to use what you now know to respond with intention?
Consider the person who thinks about what they want to say before they say it, letting them process the real message they want to share. Response. Consider the person who thinks about being physical before actually hitting someone, and instead uses words or chooses another action, like walking away. Response.
We talk a lot about responding vs. reacting because it requires significant self-awareness to act with intention. Reacting is programmed in our heads; it is part of our fight, flight or freeze survival instinct. Sometimes, it’s what is needed to keep us safe. But in most cases, responding, or acting with intention, provides a more successful outcome. Think about a difficult situation you were faced with. Consider your actions:
- Did you respond?– You see where you are and you see where you want to be. You start to consider how to close the gap between the two to get to your desired outcome.
- Did you react? – You see where you are. You ruminate on what has happened, unable to look ahead or gain control of your emotions, making it hard to take thoughtful actions toward achieving what you want.
I recently came across a great reminder about the power of looking forward: “There’s a reason the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror; where you’re going is so much better then where you’ve been.”
If you find yourself wondering what life could or would have been like, take a moment to stop and notice what’s happening around you and to reflect on your reaction. What situation caused you to think of what could have been? Is it fact or is it something you believe to be true?
Instead of saying “what could have been,” how can you change the question to an actionable statement: “I wonder what would be if I…”
See things clearly. Choose wisely.
Consider reading That’s Life