People like to control what is going on around them. We do not like having things out of our control, nor do we like for people who try to control others to accomplish what they want to do. One of the older than dirt wisdom things I learned through the years of dealing with chronic illness is that the only thing I can really control is me and how I react to things.
Have you ever had something or someone hit a nerve in you and you react because whatever it is triggering is not a comfortable feeling? I think most people have. Someone can get on our nerves, something in the news can upset up, family members can make us mad or people around us irritate the hell out of us, and even strangers can trigger a negative reaction.
It is important to look within and to ask yourself why you are getting upset because often it has nothing to do with what happened but something within yourself. I often found that it was because what was said or done triggered a memory from the past or a situation that was unpleasant that I had already been through and when those feelings were triggered, I reacted more so from the past experience than I did from what really happened at the moment.
We cannot control what other people say or think, what is said on social media or in the news or even how people react to us. Life is not always fair and there will always be negative things to deal with. What we can control is how we react to it and what we allow close to us. Learning to set boundaries so that we are not exposed over and over to people treating us wrong is one step we can use to control being treated badly.
There is a quote that says “People treat us by what we allow”. I thought on that for a long time and realized one day that it meant if someone is unpleasant to us or tries to exclude us or push us out, if we allow it then we give them the impression it is ok. I am not talking about fighting people but setting the bar so that you protect yourself and you let people know by your actions that you will not allow this or that. For example, when someone is cold, rude, ugly to me, I just turn away and do not talk to them. That gives them the message after a while that I do not accept this treatment. I am a person of faith and try to treat people how I want to be treated. Does this mean I never fail at this? No, it does not. It simply means I work hard to treat people the way I want to be treated.
Some years back, I was attending this church and the Priest there got very angry at me because I would not conform to what he wanted and he actually ordered me out of the church. My godfather talked to me and told me to not leave the church but to stay because I went for God and not for the priest. At the time I was too hurt to stay and retreated to my home for weeks on end until one day, after much healing of the hurt inflicted, I knew I had to return for myself more than anything. The day I came walking back into that church, I saw that the ones that had hurt me were scared to see me there. I believe this is because they knew their actions were wrong and seeing me made them have to face that. Many others came up to hug me and tell me how glad they were to see me but the ones that mistreated me literally avoided me. My godfather was right in that I should have stayed and faced my attackers at that church but it took healing time before I could do that.
Something else my godfather taught me was that when people are ugly to us, attack us, demean us, etc. it is because of their own insecurities and not anything to do with us. People that are at peace have no reason to attack another person and inflict hurt on them. And so I learned to look at the reason behind their actions and it helped me to not react in hurt or angry when someone, even someone I knew and loved, attacked me or said hurtful things to me. This is especially true of the attackers on the internet who feel that being behind a monitor gives them power to be mean. That is when I learned to set the bar for how I wanted to be treated.
I find that forgiveness for my own well being goes a long way towards keeping us from reacting to other people’s actions. Forgiveness is more for the person wronged than it is for the one that has hurt us. It gives us peace and allows us to move forward in our lives. Those that cannot forgive become very bitter people.
In these days and times, life is often out of our control and I think that people who have not found that place of happiness within have a difficult time handling things out of their control. This often causes them to react with anger, ugliness or attacking. Have you ever noticed in tragic circumstances such as storms destroying a neighborhood that you will see some people who are smiling as they pick their way through the devastation? This is because true happiness lies within the heart and those people know what is important in life. Happiness is a state of mind that lies within us. People, places, things, money, etc cannot bring us happiness. Those things can bring us joy but joy is a temporary emotion and is not happiness. Once one of those things disappears, if you have no true happiness inside of you, then you are left feeling despondent.
I have learned and continue to learn daily that looking through the eyes of love, compassion and forgiveness helps protect us from the angst that comes from negative people who try to pull others down to make themselves feel better. I find anger a waste of energy. I am not talking righteous indignation over seeing others hurt or seeing corruption, etc. I am talking that short fuse anger because life is not going like we want. I have learned to stop myself and ask myself if this is what Christ would say or do. And if it is anger, control, bullying, etc we know the answer is no.
Always remember you are in control of how you react. I hear people say “so and so made me so mad” and I smile because I have learned that someone does not make us mad. We choose to react in anger because we do not like what was said or done. Just as being happy is a choice, being miserable and mean is a choice too. I look around the world and think how much better the world would be if people would quit being so politically correct, quit trying to judge and tell others what to do, and quit reacting in anger for reacting never brings about good things. When we react, we are not consciously trying to solve a problem but rather reacting as if we put our hand on a hot burner. Since we have the choice, always choose happiness, love, compassion and understanding over anger, hatred, bullying and control.
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