“He made me so mad I wanted to throw something at him,” she explained while telling me how angry she was at her boss for taking credit for all the work she had done in bringing a project to a successful, on-time and under budget conclusion.
In relaying the story to me she was displaying visible signs of anger. The more detail provided, the angrier she became.
By the time she was finished she was, I am sure, as angry as she had been at the very moment the event she was describing had taken place.
She, Sandra, in telling me of this incident, was doing what most of us do when describing an incident that had taken place or, indeed, what we do while in the midst of that very event.
Sandra was blaming her boss’s behaviour for the anger she felt and whenever we do this – pin reason for our emotions on an external event or person – we are managing to accomplish two things: one painfully unnecessary and the other factually wrong.
By attaching blame to an external source as the cause of our emotions, we are portraying ourselves as helpless victims unable to exercise our God-given power of choice.
What we’re doing incorrectly, is connecting two different and separate occurrences that are absolutely unconnected.
We are at our weakest whenever we depict ourselves as victims, for in so doing we are proclaiming our helplessness at the actions of other’s, or at the result of events, and by so doing we are placing ownership of our emotions in the hands of others thereby abdicating all responsibility for our emotional well-being.
We have frequently discussed how events in our lives have only the meaning we place upon them and perhaps it is helpful if we revisit this topic by looking at it from a different perspective.
In Sandra’s case, her boss did whatever he did and she became angry.
Now let’s examine the spatial disconnection between these occurrences. The anger Sandra felt was all contained inside her own body. This is self-evident as we are incapable of experiencing emotions outside of our own bodies.
The “cause” of her anger – her boss – on the other hand, was at all times outside of her body as events in our lives do indeed occur outside of our bodies.
If her boss was behaving poorly outside of her body and Sandra was experiencing emotions inside of her body, and if those two occurrences were connected, then there must be some means of connecting the two. And yet, clearly, there aren’t.
There are no cables connecting Sandra’s boss to the inside of her body and into her emotions nor is there any form of Wi-Fi allowing for the wireless connection of these events simply because his behaviour and her anger truly are not connected to each other.
Sandra’s boss did whatever he did. Sandra observed his behaviour and then became angry all by herself.
This is an extraordinarily difficult concept for many of us to grasp and yet the moment we do so we have given ourselves the most liberating gift we will ever receive.
Accepting that we own each and every emotion we experience, and that the events in our lives have no bearing on those emotions, gives us the immense freedom to choose how we are affected by everything.
Choosing how we feel about each and every incident guides how we respond; true personal power comes not from what happens but from what we do next.
And selecting what we do next, when we do so from a position of being in control and not from one of being controlled, means we are operating from strength.
And that’s exactly what we are meant to do.
Till we read again.