Life is full of ups and downs. Over time, things change. Sometimes things hardly seem to change at all, or they change very slowly.
It is only when we look back over time that we can say things have changed, maybe better or worse, but they have certainly changed. Sometimes change happens fast. A radical and very disruptive change. You know the kind, the ones where you have no say, no influence, no control. Sometimes events happen and again, we have no way of preventing the event or outcome. When these kinds of cases arise, we often find ourselves responding or reacting to these events and changes. Our response might seem familiar. That is, we have learned how to respond to these types of change or event, because we have seen them before. We have had this experience before. Whatever it is that has happened, an event or change, that is now different to before, we are often limited as to how we can respond or how we can react. What do we do about this “bad event” of this huge change? Well, whilst we may not be able to change the event or outcome and we may not even be able to influence parts of the outcome. Maybe, we have no choice but to accept them, however, we will still have a choice to make. So, what is your defacto position? How do you normally react to adversity or change?
One way to respond to all of life’s ups and downs is to position yourself as the victim. The victim responds and reacts to everything, every event or change as if it has been done to them and they have no say, influence or control over the situation. They become angry, frustrated, resentful or even depressed. This behaviour can lead to stress and anxiety, known as the loci of control, or perceived lack of control. If this habit becomes the defacto standard of response, (the way you always react), then you are doomed to a life of feeling angry, frustrated and resentful and most probably depressed.
Victims think in a way that things are done to them. They believe they are at the mercy of other beings or that of the universe or fate. Typical statements you might hear a victim say are: “It’s just my luck”. “It never works out for me”. “Why does it always happen to me” “It’s easy for others but not me”. “It will work out alright for them, but not for me”. You get the idea! We are all capable of such thinking and none of us are exempt from thinking in this way from time to time. However, there is another way of thinking and the first step to thinking in a different way is to recognise our thought process. In other words, think back on some recent events and change. How did you respond? What were your thoughts? Do any of the victim statements resonate? Of course, we can do the opposite of victim thinking, we can think mindfully. Instead of this learned behaviour of stimulus – response (victim), we can ask ourselves better questions about the bad event of change or even huge change. Simple questions that we automatically ask in times of change and uncertainty is “what does this mean for me”? We could ask, “how do I feel about this”? “Are these feelings about this change or event serving me well”? Often, when it comes down to it, the only thing we can often change is our perspective our attitude and subsequently our response.
Being mindful about the cause of the event, recognising how you feel, asking better questions such as “what is the opportunity here”? “What is the best outcome I can achieve”? may help you to respond in a better way that will hopefully put you into a mindful state. This state, as you know, will be more positive, which enables more problem-solving opportunities. It is difficult to solve problems when you’re mad as hell. So, let’s see how we can be a little more mindful next time we experience bad events, bad interactions or impending significant change. Follow this three-step process and ask yourself the questions.
- How is this event or change making me feel?
- Are these feelings serving me well?
- What will be the outcome if I continue as I am thinking this way?
- Will these current feelings help to resolve the issue or achieve a better outcome?
- What level of control do I have?
- In what way might I influence this?
- What is the best outcome for me?
- What can be learned from this?
- What is the outcome I want?
- What am I prepared to do?
- What opportunities does this create?
You see, we are all capable of thinking like a victim, it’s easy to do.
The opposite is taking responsibility. That’s response - ability, or the ability to respond. If we take full responsibility for all life’s ups and downs, whilst we might need time to get to the adjust stage, we will remove one of the greatest contributors of stress and anxiety and many negative emotions that does not serve us well. Taking full 100% responsibility for all of these events, enables and enthuses us to take positive corrective action. What is your defacto standard? How will you respond to bad events and change in the future?
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