Earlier today, actually, way too early in the morning for me, the family and I were out and about around town. It was, despite the early morning start, a wonderful family bonding time. A time for us to enjoy each other’s presence. A truly wonderful gift!
In one of the stores we entered I discovered a decorative plaque. It wasn’t so much the plaque itself that grabbed my attention, rather it was the saying upon the plaque that interested me. It read: “We cannot control the wind, but we can control the sail.”
That quote made me think of two things; the Dove (pictured) and my previous post on our lack of control over the world around us (click here to read that post).
The more I continue along my life’s journey the more I come to the understanding there is very little of which I am in control. I don’t intend to repeat the sentiments of my previous blog post, but to use the plaque’s quote as a continuation of my thoughts on the topic (be assured there will be future posts on this topic). In my previous post I spoke about my two column method for coping with situations out of our control. In this post let’s take that a bit deeper.
In the first century, in Greece, Eplicletus, a philosopher, stated “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views they take of them.” He ultimately believed that everything which happens to us is fate and therefore out of our control. But, he stressed that we are responsible for our actions. For me, and my experiences, Epicletus’ view holds much truth. My life’s mantra focuses on action, what I can do. For me, it is not as important what I think or feel about things / events as it is what I do in response to them.
Understanding that I cannot control much of what happens to me, I take comfort in the knowledge that I am in control of how I respond or react to what happens to me. Most of us, including myself, have used the phrase “he (she) made me feel …”. Yet, in reality no one has the power to make me feel anything! Why am I giving others that power over me? The reality is that a person says something to me, and I make a decision on how I will respond. For example, if someone tells me I am dumb, I could be offended, I could feel angry, I could laugh it off. I can’t control what they tell me, but I do control my response to them.
Therefore, changing our perspective to recognize that I am in control of my responses will reduce our stress and anxiety. Try it. The next time someone says something negative, take a moment and think of how you want to respond and notice the difference. When your life’s journey throws lemons at you, think of what you can do in response to the lemons.