Most of us enjoy the connection we have to all of the things that are going well in our lives. And, why wouldn’t we? Our own responses and actions to the people, places and things we interact with, each and every day, deserve the utmost credit when it comes to our wins.
In the same vein, we are also deeply connected to all of things we don’t like. Yet, many of us would prefer to escape these sorts of accreditations, and replace them with blame. Blame of the people, places and things that cause us to react in the very ways we don’t like. In doing so, we simply remove our most powerful mirrors, which when noticed, reflect some of life’s most profound personal lessons.
To notice our reflections in all situations, whether we label them as ‘likes’ or ‘dislikes,’ we need to move past our own victimization and finger pointing in order to see the lessons. The lessons guide us with the most accurate compass for action. They teach us more about ourselves, as well as how we can personally impact change, by assuming accountability for what’s happening in our own worlds.
When we become personally responsible for what happens to us, we empower ourselves to make a unique impact within our own lives, and also with the world at large. So, where do we find ourselves in life’s mirrors, and how can we learn from their most valuable reflections?
Step 1: Take accountability for everything that’s happening in your world, even if you think it’s bad.
Face the facts that we are connected to everything that happens in our lives, simply by virtue of the fact that we are able to perceive it. For instance, are you mad at someone? Disappointed with something? Perhaps even disgusted by someone or something outside of you? Okay, fair enough.
So, what does all of this tell you about yourself? What of your values have been threatened? What interpretations are you forming? What aspects of yourself are you expressing or repressing in the situation? What needs are you fulfilling by expressing yourself in this way? Most importantly, how might the answers to all of these questions guide and inform your next steps?
Step 2: Notice how you are responding or reacting to challenging situations.
Are you reacting to the world around you, or responding to it with an informed sense of self? By merely reacting to external things we don’t like, we are essentially allowing the world to control us. And, by taking accountability for our own feelings and emotional roller coaster rides, we have a better chance to steer our own experiences.
Our feelings belong to none other than ourselves. So, before we blame other people and situations for making us feel a certain way, why not take ownership of our feelings and actions, learn from them, and then see if it leads us to respond more productively?
It’s easier to build the lives we want, when we learn to respond to our own emotions, versus react to mere interpretations of what other people do or don’t do.
Step 3: Where else in your life are you reacting, and what does this tell you about yourself?
When we notice our own habitual and consistent reactions to the world, then it’s time for us to take ownership of our own patterns. Unique circumstances that provoke similar challenges and reoccurring conflicts, all have one thing in common – you. That’s right, we are all our own common denominator in everything that we perceive.
So, do you often find it hard to connect with others? Then take a moment to think about your own willingness to connect with other people. Do the actions and choices of other people often make you angry? Then, what does this tell you about how your own actions frustrate you? Are you often judging or criticizing other people? What about you is making yourself unhappy? Are you constantly ‘made to feel’ powerless, or guilty? Then, how are you neglecting to step-up and claim your own sense of power?
You get the point. Rather than allow everything you dislike to build a wall between you and the world, see what happens when you allow these very things to reflect right back on you. This is where the most impactful learning opportunities are found.
Step 4: What do you want to do about it?
So, congratulations for making it this far! It shows that you are capable of facing yourself with honesty.
In other words, you are forming an opening to the idea that all of us are connected to everyone and everything, whether we like them or not. In doing so, you are finding that the most valuable lessons about the world, and your existence in it, offer the most solid foundations to respond and take action.
Now that you can see your own reflection in all of the things you dislike, and have also taken the time to learn from them, what are you going to do about it? Might you work on changing yourself, before insisting that the entire world around you change? As Wayne Dyer said, “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” How might this simple concept change the way you experience life?
Better yet, how might you empower yourself to experience more joy, and spread more of your potential, if you took the time to connect with and learn from the world around you, versus only pointing your finger at it? Remember the old adage – change starts with you.