My response, my responsibility

My husband has a saying that he uses all the time. Sometimes it really annoys me because I don’t want to take responsibility for my reaction to what I think it someone else’s fault or mistake, something for which I think they should apologise or fix. But generally it’s a good reminder about the power I actually have in a situation, even a situation that I’m not happy about.

Yesterday was a good example of when he used the saying and I just didn’t want to hear it. I was with a large group of people and just got the sense that there was some disgruntlement there by some of that group against me, or just in some angst in general that happened to be directed at anyone who was close by them at the time, ie. me! Well, it got to the point where one person was quite rude and I got to the point where I’d had enough and either wanted to leave or say something (which might not have been so pleasant!). But I couldn’t at that time. So I seethed and tried to just manage how I was feeling. My husband could obviously tell I wasn’t happy and came to talk with me. But instead of listening to my gripes and complaints and sympathising with me, he just said ‘I know, but your response is your responsibility’. Well, if I wasn’t cranky enough as it was! Lol.

But my husband happens to be a pretty wise kind of guy, and reminds me all the time of this fact: that people can treat me however they like, and I have limited control over this, but the way in which I act and the way in which I treat them back is COMPLETELY my call. I can choose whether I will be angry, or calm, kind or hurtful, generous or selfish, assertive or passively resentful. Sometimes I need to give myself some space from those who’ve hurt me or acted wrongly towards me to be able to process what’s happened and then choose my response. Other times, when it’s a smaller thing, I can check myself in the moment and make a choice.

Yesterday was a particularly difficult situation for me, but what I’ve noticed is that the more I practice the kind of response I’d like to give, the easier it is to give that response. So not only do I get to choose exactly the kind of person I want to be, irrespective of those around me, but also, it becomes easier and easier to be kind, generous, calm, gentle and assertive the more I practice it.

You may not have a husband constantly reminding you of the power of response that you have, but perhaps you could put something else in place to remind you, and to help you practice. If you’ve any ideas, I’d love to hear them. Please do share!

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