React or Respond?

I’ve been enjoying letting things go lately, (old wounds and resentments, bad habits, and my constant need for control). I’m so much happier when I accept situations and people as they are, when the reasons for getting wound up over something suddenly seem pointless.

I can see more clearly how other people’s negativity is about their unresolved pain. It has nothing to do with me, and for me to take offense or be soured by it is purely egotistical. How many times in my own life have I been sour, bitter, or just generally unpleasant to be around because I felt victimized?


Now, I feel this calm certainty that no one’s behavior requires my reaction. If anything, I should strive to respond with acknowledgement, a desire for clarity, and empathy: “You seem frustrated/angry/hurt.”

At the very least, this helps another person feel heard and validated.

In doing this, I may also find gaps in my own awareness. Maybe this growing awareness helps me be more considerate of others’ burdens. Perhaps I offer encouragement and a smile where I once might have offered hostility.

It’s a relief to have a way for peace within myself, even if others may not always respond in kind. By taking responsibility for my own emotions and not theirs, I can remain calm. Their conflict doesn’t need to become mine.

And if some people just don’t like me, that’s okay, too. I’m an acquired taste, and I’m comfortable with that. If a person’s behavior toward me reflects dislike, there’s no reason I should respond with anything except humor and compassion. We are who we are, and that’s life.

When it comes right down to it, there’s really no need to take anything personally, ever (even if it is personal). The one thing we’re truly responsible for, the one thing we control, is our own behavior. Peace and happiness come from focusing on our own choices, regardless of the situation.



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