Many times in life, I've seen people get angry and upset over an event that happened. This event could be anything; a remark that someone made or an incident that occurred or even just a feeling that one may have at a particular time, triggered by another event.
For example, many years ago, I had a boss who came into the office with a red face, obviously angry over something. He walked right into his office, slammed the door and kept himself locked in till lunch. Nobody dared disturb him and everyone worked in apprehension as to what will happen next if he should walk out of the room. Will be bark at someone? Will he find something to throw his anger at? His "foul mood" had affected the mood of the office environment as well. At lunch, he went out and never came back till the next day. A few days later, when all seemed to have cooled down, a colleague asked his secretary what happened. Apparently, he had an argument with the contractor who was building his house in the morning before coming into the office, and allowed his anger and disappointment to get the better of him.
In another incident, a female colleague came to the office, looking very downcast. All day, she was not very responsive and it affected the mood of the office as she was the "livewire" of the office. We found out later, that she had receive news that a good childhood friend was hospitalized with a serious illness.
We all have seen these incidents, and some of us may have been the "victims" of some of these as well. Many times, we justify our anger, sadness etc... by saying, "He/She should not have said (or done) this!" I'm also sure that when the incident was over, we'd all look back at the incident to realize the folly of our behavior and see how it had affected not just ourselves but also others in our vicinity.
What we need to realize here is that how we feel about a particular incident (referred to as the "outcome" here) is mostly defined by the equation, Event x Response = Outcome. We often blame the "Event" for our "Outcome" but in reality, most of our "Outcome" is really defined by how we "Respond" to the "Event".
Let's look at a hypothetical event that could happen in real life. Let's imagine we are in a classroom and Mrs Brown picks on John in class and said, "John, your report was not very good. I would like you to come to my office after school and we will spend the afternoon going through your report". How do you think John's self-esteem will be affected? Well, in most cases, most people would think that John's self-esteem will be affected negatively for being singled out in class because that is how most of us were programmed to think! Well, let's take a look at how John can respond.
Firstly, if John is like most people, he can choose to see that the teacher dislikes him and his report and chose to pick on him and embarrass him in class. If he responds this way, his self-esteem will definitely be affected negatively.
Alternatively, John could choose to see that his teacher does not fully understand the subject he is writing about in his report because it is a topic that is too profound for most people. He makes up his mind to tell his teacher, Mrs Brown, that. In this case, his self-esteem will not be affected.
Finally, John could choose to think this, "There are so many students in class writing about a similar topic and Mrs Brown chose to pick on me. I think she likes me!" If John responds this way, his self-esteem could actually be elevated.
You can see from the example above that the "Outcome" (in this case, John's Self-Esteem), is affected differently just by how he chooses to respond. While this is a hypothetical event, similar events replay themselves everyday in real life on different people; a child spilled his drink on your favorite dress, a guest made a remark about your poor taste in dressing, you lost something valuable etc...
Just last week, a friend lost her favorite wallet. I expected her to be upset but instead she said, "Oh well, while it is valuable, it's also old and maybe it's time to buy a new one!". What an awesome example of managing our "Response" to tilt the "Outcome" in your favor.
Life "throws" you many things everyday. When life throws you a "Lemon", instead of wincing at the sourness of the lemon, chose to make lemonade instead!
About Cher Hung Seet
C.H. has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration. He spent a large part of his career working for large multinationals such as Hewlett Packard and Rockwell Automation. C.H. now heads a German multinational in SE Asia and is the author of the blog http://www.ezinspirations.com focusing on Success in Life!
In his free time, C.H. indulge in hobbies like Fishing, Cycling, Motorbiking, Photography. He has another blog at http://www.fishinghorizon.com focusing on his fishing adventures throughout the world!
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