The snake made me do it! Really? You have heard it before, have not you? This one is 'the snake made me do it story' with a triangle twist. You will want to hear it, believe me!
The other day an acquaintance of mine told me he was angry. Out of the blue?
We were sitting round the table, engaging in small talk. I asked him what the cause of his anger. He replied it was something related to his brother's behavior. His main concern though was how he could get rid of his anger.
The short conversation that ensued highlighted some interesting issues about …
Briefly, this is how it went:
Me: "So, you have a problem with your brother's behavior?"
Him: "Yes, I do. And he makes me mad, very mad."
Me: "Does your brother make you mad? Or you choose to be mad because of your brother's behavior?"
You see, it all comes down to one word. That one word is 'choice'. What we choose, when something happens. You may be aware of it, but there are moments everyday when you have to make choices. Those moments are crucial because minute though they may be, the choices that we make during them are life-changing.
An event happens. For some reasons your response is required. At that moment you make a choice about the kind of response that you deem appropriate.
So, based on your interpretation of what has happened, you choose any one of your 'best behavior demanded by this situation'. And, if you were my acquaintance you would be angry. But why? Really, why?
The event, whatever it is, is just an event. What is important in the whole equation is your choice. You may not have been responsible for the event / situation, but for as long as you live, you are responsible for your response.
Sometimes the event is an extremely bad one. The kind we call bad luck, very unfortunate! When this kind of situation occurs to you, you ask yourself: "Why me, why not my cat or neighbor?"
Even here I am maintaining that no matter the event / situation, you are extremely responsible for your responses. Taking responsibility for your responses is one of the first steps in owning your life. When you own your responses you dictate the terms of your success, and of your way forward.
I often say that there is nothing in this world that can make me mad, angry or sad without my consent. It is my life.
Oh, I hear you say that you have heard this kind of thing so often. Let me add the subtle twist I promised. And you listen carefully sinceforth.
In every behavior there is a positive intention. And in every of your reaction / response to whatever situation confronts you there is something we will call 'secondary gains'.
I am going to be slow here, because I need us to be reading on the same page.
When someone does something to you, they may be annoying to you. But, what is the positive intention of their behavior? What purpose is that behavior serving? From their point of view? You may find that they are trying to protect themselves or reserve a particular status quo. Or that they are trying to get something. Maybe your attention or some peace of mind. You might be irritating them.
When your response to their behavior (in whatever way) you are thinking of how their behavior benefits you or how it does not benefit you. So, your behavior (which I maintain is not caused by them) may also be a way of protecting yourself from some 'perceived danger or intrusion'. And all time you are thinking of your own benefits in the unfolding drama.
What am I asking to make of all this.
Respond to all situations in a way that acknowledges the positive intention as well as your own secondary gains. If the two (situation's positive intention and your 'secondary gains') are in conflict, adopt an attitude of' it's not so much what happens to me that matters. It is how I deal with the experience that matters'.
Do not let the snake make you do anything!