“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”
— Denis Waitley, American motivational speaker and writer
image from http://www.faithingyourblueprint.com
When I read today’s quote, I felt a bit troubled. Observing the world around me, I notice many people making a third, and yet very undesirable choice in life: the choice to be the victim. This is where individuals, organizations, and sometimes even nations, blame others for their current conditions.
Waitley points to two better choices for us to consider as we journey through our days. As the serenity prayer suggests, it is often helpful to simply accept those things we cannot control or influence, and of course, accept and take responsibility for those situations about which we can do something.
What choices are you currently making in your professional and personal life? Where would greater acceptance of your responsibility to change for the better make the biggest difference?
“Forgive them even if they’re not sorry.”
-Julian Casablancas, lyricist (from the song “11th Dimension”)
Photo from westerngreatlakesdistrict.org
Perhaps no single human trait causes more damage than the fundamental need most of us have to be right.
When we assume this stance and other have an alternative point of view, they are, of course, wrong.
This vicious cycle often causes both parties to do and say things that are hurtful and often damaging.
Look at your own professional or personal worlds to examine where you see yourself inside this cycle. Notice how long it has been occurring, and just how much time and attention it takes from your days—time which could be spent far more enjoyably and productively.
How would the practice of forgiveness—even if those who have hurt you are not sorry —take the additional burden of these events off your shoulders? How would that help you lead a lighter and more fulfilling life?
“You can’t judge my choices without understanding my reasons.”
Without question, judging others and being critical is one of the most common reasons people give when they talk about unsatisfying or destructive relationships.
Unfortunately, this happens daily to some degree, to most of us. A key reason for the universality of this behavior is our constant filtering. We look at the choices of others through our own perception of what is right or wrong, good or bad.
Being genuinely interested in another person’s points of view and seeking to fully understand their perspective lessens the level of judgement and creates greater relationship harmony.
Try this four-step exercise when interacting with others, to assist you in taking greater responsibility for making your relationships stronger.
- Be aware of your internal voice when listening to others, and notice if this voice is supportive or critical.
- Examine your listening. Can you mirror what the other person said and meant?
- Ask yourself: What is good and valuable in what they are saying?
- Limit your interruptions to those questions that will give you greater clarity and understanding.
“If you’re able to be yourself, then you have no competition. All you have to do is get closer and closer to that essence.”
—Barbara Cook, 20th century American singer and actress
This quote reminds me of Shakespeare’s famous “to thine own self be true” statement, from Polonius’ speech in Hamlet.
The issue of fitting in and wanting to be accepted is not simply one for our school years. It continues into adulthood, professionally and personally.
Instead of participating and competing in a world of judgement and comparison, perhaps the wisest journey and focus should be to be our best selves.
What would you need to do in either your professional or personal worlds to tap into your most authentic and genuine essence, to be perfectly yourself?
By the way, there is a book titled Perfectly Yourself, Nine Lessons for Enduring Happiness by Matthew Kelly, that I recommend you explore.