March 2013

How are you handling things? by S.D. Denny

How are you handling things?

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Charles R. Swindoll

A sure way to know that I’ve matured significantly is my own observation of how I react to things in my life. There was a time (and maybe not so long ago) when my first response to a negative situation would be to immediately fly completely off the handle – no thought of how I might be perceived or the consequences that might follow. If someone said something to me that struck a nerve, I just couldn’t keep quiet. I had to say something back in a tone just as ugly as I perceived theirs to be. How dare they say that to me! The same with situations or circumstances I encountered that I found difficult to deal with – I would immediately jump the gun and get angry or depressed, depending on which of those I felt was the best direction to take at the time.

News Flash: That’s not good for you, nor does it solve anything!

I had a friend once say to me, “Choose your battles.” At the time, I didn’t understand what she meant, but today I have a clear understanding. Thanks to some true spiritual teaching from various resources over the years, I’ve learned that the above quote by Charles R. Swindoll is absolutely true!

Yesterday, I encountered a situation in which I felt betrayed by a friend. To top it off, when I got home I had to endure sarcastic remarks (jokingly stated, but sarcastic nonetheless) from a family member who assumed it was okay to make such statements. I could’ve flown off the handle and confronted my friend, but instead, I took the time to first assess the situation and my feelings about it. I considered the dynamics of the friendship and whether or not it was worth it for me to go beyond bringing it to my friend’s attention that I felt betrayed and decided that I would leave it where it was. I’ve learned over the years that you can’t change anyone, but you do have the ability to walk away from toxic relationships, which is what I’ve chosen to do instead. And the sarcastic remarks – well, I just brushed them off and didn’t bother to respond. I felt they weren’t serious enough to bother addressing, actually.

You cannot change or control other people and their actions, but how you react to them will make all the difference in the world. This is something that I learned in therapy sessions (yes, I’ve had therapy) a few years ago, and it has stuck with me since. My therapist told me, “You’ll be much better off, much happier, once you’ve accepted that you have no control over other people. The only person you have control of is YOU.” She was right – I am much happier now that I have adapted a new philosophy about handling people and things in my life.

If you find that you are constantly regretting how you handled a person or situation, perhaps you should reconsider your methods. Try taking some deep breaths first. I know this sounds like something you’d read in a self-help book, but it actually works! After that, assess the situation. If you have the time, put some thought into it, but if there’s no time, do it quickly. Think before you act or speak – when you do, you’ll find that you don’t have thoughts of regret as often as you once did.

The bottom line is, there’s other ways you can choose to react to situations without getting your panties in a bunch (I just love saying that)! Choose your battles…you never know how much it can lower your blood pressure!

SD Denny, Award-Nominated Author & Freelance Editor
Sharing words that inspire and raise awareness!


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