[quote] “It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crises is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.” – J.W. Goethe [/quote]
You can only control you. That is probably something most of us have heard at least once in our lives. I know my mother has repeated it to me a thousand times (and probably will repeat it a thousand more!), but there is wisdom in it. More than that, there’s hope in it.
Life throws many curveballs, and sometimes, just when you think you’ve been given a break, you’re knocked in the head with another ball you weren’t ready to catch. And that’s okay. No, it’s not fun, but it’s okay. Why? Because the unexpected storms of life are not our fault. They can’t be – they’re unexpected. This frees you of some responsibility. But it adds some, too. We can’t change what we can’t change (the unexpected events that mean hard seasons of life), but we certainly can change ourselves. In the quote above, Goethe establishes not only the fact that we have responsibility, but our exact controls and what they are.
1) We are responsible for our perceptions.
Perception is reality. If someone perceives something about a situation or circumstance, that perception is what is believed, and it becomes the “reality,” and it shapes the way this person sees the world. That being said, we have the power to change our reality. And we can make our world a good place to be or make each day a slow, painful hell that we have to drag ourselves through. It’s all a matter of perception.
2) We are responsible for our responses.
We may not always be able to change the circumstance, but our reactions sometimes can. When something bad happens to us, most of us gripe and moan (I know I do!), wishing the situation were different. But wishing cannot ever solve anything. Moping will only make the situation worse. And getting someone else to fix the problem turns you into a complainer. So your last option is to fix the problem yourself. No, the circumstance may not be your fault. No, fixing the problem may not be your job. But it solves the problem. And it fixes the situation. So, either be the change you want, or don’t do anything, as long as you don’t complain.
3) We are responsible to others.
We are in this world, whether we like it or not. Unless you live in a cave in the middle of nowhere (and if you do, you probably aren’t reading this anyway), you interact with people on an everyday basis. You share life with others more often than you’re aware. Treating someone with anything less than respect is like littering, and you leave behind an awful trail of anger behind you. And that’s simply not responsible.
4) We are responsible for others.
Think about the people you see every day. Your boss, your coworkers, your friends, your partner, your peers, your professors – they all demand your attention in one way or another. And that’s not a bad thing. The people you see every day are people whose lives can radically change, for better or for worse, because of you. If they ruin their lives, yes it is their own fault, and they will lie in the bed they made because they made it, but you do have the power to influence their decisions. And if you have the power to better someone’s life, there is no reason why you shouldn’t.
It’s incredible the amount of power we have simply because we’re human. And if there is so much good that can be done because of that power, why wouldn’t we better our world – even in the middle of bad circumstance?