“Okay, I’m curious!” you might be thinking. “Tell me, how can I expand my freedom now and forever?”
Here’s confession #1: It is likely that I’m not sharing anything new in this Brilliance Nugget (how brilliant is that?). However, it is also quite possible that a reminder is a good thing. If you take this reminder entirely to heart, it is life-changing.
And here’s confession #2: If I take this Brilliance Nugget to heart 100% of the time, day in and day out, it is life-changing for me, too.
What am I talking about? Taking responsibility. I mean: Taking responsibility for (almost) EVERYTHING.
Let me explain.
It is easy enough to blame other people for
- How horrible something is.
- How bad something or someone makes you feel.
- How inconsiderate, lazy, negative, or even hostile they are.
- How they are not doing what you want them to do.
- How you have to do things you don’t want to do.
- The happening of “stuff” you don’t like.
The list goes on.
It is easy to feel like you are the victim. It is too easy. You get to assign the responsibility for whatever it is to someone else. That is the “upside.”
The downside is: You give away your power and your freedom! (almost all people likely fall into that trap at some point; see confession #2)
How Do You (And I) Regain Our Freedom Now And Forever?
You can’t change what someone does. You can’t change external circumstances. At best, you can influence them.
But you have choices about
- How to view them
- How to respond to them
- Which meaning to assign to them
Let’s say an employee who reports to you often comes into the office making negative comments.
- You feel you have done everything you can to remedy the situation.
- You have done all you can to get to the root of the employee’s unhappiness to see what you can do the be helpful.
- You have asked him to be more positive in his attitude.
However, none of these efforts have had much impact. You feel trapped because the employee does good work. Hiring someone to replace him would be tricky, especially in this marketplace. Getting someone up to his skill level is another hurdle. You also know he is only a few years from retirement, has a family to feed, and has worked for the company for years. On the other side, this negative attitude is getting you down. It is starting to rub off on your mood. You feel that he might be the bad apple infecting the bunch.
What To Do When You Feel “Trapped”?
Whenever we feel “trapped” in a circumstance, there is an opportunity to regain freedom by taking responsibility. How? Recognize that you are not a victim and not trapped.
- You can take the responsibility to make a decision. It may not be easy to replace this employee, but it is possible.
- It is also possible to view the situation differently. For example, you could choose to think, “Well, he is a grumpy old man – and everyone here knows that. He does a good job with his work. As long as we keep him away from clients, he can stay and make a worthwhile contribution.”
- You can change the meaning of what is happening. For example, when someone comes into the office negatively, you might make it mean. “I now don’t feel happy.” You can choose a more pleasant meaning, such as, “Even when someone is negative in my presence, I have a choice about how I feel!”
We are well off to realize that we are inventing (!) the meaning. Human beings are “meaning creation machines.” We might as well create a meaning that helps us instead of one that hurts us.
Is that always easy? No, otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about this subject (now, that is brilliant?! :-))
Next time you are annoyed or outright angry, take some deep breaths and ask yourself: “How can I take responsibility for how I feel, respond, or view this situation?”
This nugget applies at work, at home, in all our relationships, in life from A to Z. Wow. Now there is more freedom to be had!
In which area would you like to expand your freedom?
P.S.: I appreciate you commenting and sharing this Brilliance Nugget with others. Thank you!