A reader wrote to me and asked for ways to control herself when faced with situations that upset her. She indicated that certain circumstances are especially upsetting, such as when she sees others being harmed (emotionally or physically) or when she is personally (verbally) attacked by another. She wants greater control of her reactions so that she is able to hold back from saying or doing things she may later regret.
All of us struggle with reactions to various situations. When retelling the circumstances to a friend, you may even use the phrase, "That person made me feel..." angry, upset, bad about myself, etc. So, yes, the interaction resulted in a negative emotional response that is carried for hours, days, months, and sometimes years, but the truth is that the other person didn't "make" that happen; more accurately, they triggered something inside of you that brought forward unresolved issues.
Before you respond or react in any way, take inventory of how your body feels, what thoughts are going through your mind, and what about the comment or situation is triggering a negative emotional response. Feel your feet on the floor, take a deep breath, and ask yourself if it is important enough to expend energy on or if you are better served using the energy to control the thoughts that are creating the emotions. Remember that the first step is always the decision to make a change, to take control of yourself, and to refuse to waste your time and energy by being upset. The next step is to begin modifying the way you view yourself and to take stock of the beliefs that are keeping you in a position where you feel vulnerable.
The degree to which you react to a criticism or comment will depend upon how strong your self-image is and the level of your self-esteem. When you are very self-aware and fulfilled, you are practically immune to feeling offended. In this state, you accept who you are, you accept others for who they are and where they are in their development, and feel a oneness with all beings. When your self-esteem is low, it is easy to feel hurt by the actions of others. You feel more vulnerable to the world when you have a poor self-image.
Self-image is undermined by feelings of guilt, doubt, worry, and fear. These mindsets become habitual over time and you may not even realize when they are bubbling up inside of you, wreaking havoc with your self-esteem and causing cracks in your ability to fend off "attacks" from others. Becoming self-reliant and independent with a strong core self allows you to overcome the negative emotional reactions and fosters the ability to ignore things that used to get you riled up. It also allows you to let go of past hurts that may be holding you back and keeping you locked in destructive or stagnant patterns of behavior.
You cannot control another person's thoughts or actions, yet you can work toward elevating your sense of self-worth. When you feel capable, deserving, and think well of yourself, there is very little anyone can do to take you off balance. You are able to shrug off criticism and move beyond those who you find are not positive influences in your life. At the same time, a miraculous thing occurs: the world becomes friendlier and less threatening because it is reflecting back to you what you see of yourself! Your external reality mirrors what is going on inside of you!
There are times when help is needed in building a strong self-image and fostering high self-esteem. Life coaching is a way to accomplish more in less time than treading the path alone.
© Diane Wing, all rights reserved