It’s Not You, It’s Me

So often we feel judged or disappointed by others when really it is ourselves at the root of the negativity. If we choose to be upset, to feel failed by others, that will be our path. However — as irksome as it is to admit — the choice to experience those emotions is ours and we cannot rightfully blame others for those sentiments if we fostered an environment in which those feelings flourish.

This doesn’t mean others are blameless for their missteps, or that our own actions are without impact. It simply means that another’s transgressions — perceived or accurate — do not entirely dictate our emotional response. We control our emotions.

At times, we can project our insecurities onto others. This can lead us to make false assumptions about others. We may feel self-conscious and that sentiment can lead us to interpret another’s squint of questioning recognition or protective body language stemming from shyness as judgment or assumed superiority. This can lead us to assume others react negatively towards us when that is not the case. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy though, if we act on our projections and adopt a standoffish demeanor as a mode of self-preservation.

Even if a person is judging us, we have the power to rise above it. We can’t control how others behave, but we can control how we respond. We can choose how to react. We can be riled or we can be calm, we can feel persecuted or we can feel unaffected. It’s our decision, no one else’s.

Sometimes we can let our expectations of others become outlandish or inappropriate for the individual. “Set people up for success; manage people according to their strengths,” a wise supervisor once told me. It was brilliant advice that was widely applicable.

If someone is a wonderfully fun friend but does not have a mind for dates, we shouldn’t expect him or her to remember our birthday. We shouldn’t get offended, we shouldn’t get upset, just should set our expectations in accordance with the friend’s strengths. If we want to socialize with that friend on our birthday, we should initiate an activity with that friend for our birthday. If we want a big gathering, plan it. If we want an intimiate get-together, arrange it. We shouldn’t live our life expecting others to read our mind, unless we want drama and unhappiness in our life.

Also, we shouldn’t expect our friends to be any different than they are simply to suit our whims — that is a line of thinking bound for heartache. Instead, we should set expectations based on individuals’ strengths — not our own strengths or wishes — and communicate clearly, thereby choosing to be happy.

We can choose to be happy or unhappy. Life’s events and scenarios may sway us one way or another but we are, in the end, the ones choosing our emotional response. We control our feelings; they do not control us.

Taking hold of our emotional state takes practice. It takes effort. It takes self-control. It takes a willpower. It takes a sturdy ego because we need to be able to call ourselves out on our bullsh*t.

Rely on yourself to create your own happiness and you’re bound to be more content. Depend on others to make you happy and you’re likely to be perpetually unhappy.





Seeking Harmony

Every day, in most every situation, I have two choices: harmony or discord. More often than not, I prefer harmony. So I strive to choose it.

When a stranger is snarky to me, instead of imitating the behavior I amplify my kindness. I smile genuinely, assuming the individual is experiencing a level of inner discord that has left him/her in a cloud of negativity. Often, my decision to spread kindness instead of distain, prompts the individual to shift to a more pleasant mode. Sometimes it doesn’t work. That’s ok. Another’s negativity doesn’t have to doom my own harmony.

When I suffer a personal setback I redirect mental negativity, stopping harmful self-talk immediately and recharting unhelpful thought paths. Instead, I take a deep breath and work to shift my perspective. I strive to focus on the positive: a solution and a lesson. Then, I remind myself to be grateful. Solutions give me the power to overcome the hurdle, lessons enable me to avoid the pitfall again, and gratitude keeps me grounded.

When someone says something to me I have two choices: I can allow my mind to take a negative bend and tend toward offense, or I can keep to a positive thought path and consider statements in a positive light. Often, it is simply a matter of reframing. For example, if a stranger says, “Wow, you have a lot of kids!” I could either decide to be offended by a perceived attack on my family planning choices, or I could accept the statement as a truth that was delivered with a friendly intent. Often, I find, reframing a comment’s context — realizing the statement was delivered with positive, friendly, or helpful intent — helps greatly in maintaining harmony. Choosing to take offense easily and often is a mindset, and it entirely counteracts my goal of harmony.

When I feel I am wronged, I try to respond positively but directly to the offense. I decide whether the perceived slight is worthy of addressing, if vocalizing my sentiments would prove useful or simply spawn negativity, and how to either discuss or let go of the infraction. I am not a doormat but I need not be a warmonger.

I choose resolution over victimization. Resolution will fix or at least address the issue, characterizing myself as a victim is useless and debasing. Being a perpetual victim is a mindset, and it is not one I allow myself to enable. Instead, I aim to learn from the situation, move forward with my knowledge, and focus on positive momentum, not negative stagnation.

I’ve learned that negative can become positive if I learn from it, if I redirect it, if I repurpose it to fuel my positivity. But it’s my choice. It’s not always easy or appealing, but it has yet to disappoint me.

Seeking harmony is a choice and a mindset. It’s an active, constant effort. It requires willpower and mental retraining, self-awareness, and a sturdy ego. It isn’t always a natural inclination, but it’s rewarding.

I am a continuous work in progress, constantly reminding myself and correcting myself. I’m far from an expert, certainly not without daily falters, and definitely not entirely harmonious, but I’m better than I was. It’s becoming easier with practice and dedication. And I am, in turn, happier.

Harmony makes me happy. So I choose it.