This post has been inspired by a thought running through my head the last few days:
"I am my own worst enemy."
Hmm... we'll see about that.
Of late, I've been reading, reflecting and relenting about "personal responsibility". For those of you who have not studied psychology, this is the mentality that allows an individual to take action in a situation where others could, also, take action, but the individual does not rely on the expectation that anyone else will address the situation. This mentality is exemplified in emergency situations - a man in a mall collapses. Maybe it's a heart attack, maybe it's anaphylactic shock, maybe it's just dehydration, but there's no time to loose guessing. But you're just a passerby, there's no need to stop because the woman he's with surely called 911. But she's on the floor with him, crying and shaking him to wake up. Maybe the shop owner who rushed out to see the commotion called for the mall paramedics. Meanwhile, the man on the floor has begun to foam at the mouth and is twitching. More people gasp and gather around, but who's helping him? Surely one of the interested people getting closer is rushing to his aid.
If everyone of these people does not assume their individual "personal responsibility"- that is to say, act proactively and not as a result of a lack of someone else's actions - then this man will most likely die. And when he does, there will be plenty of guilty consciences, even more fingers pointed at one another, and a reinforcement to the general populace that our fellow man should not be trusted. And we thought it was cool to be irresponsible.
Perhaps this is a more entertaining example:
But this is more of an external example, and a dramatic situation. What about the baby steps? The little ways we can take "personal responsibility" for our actions on a daily basis? This is where we must recognize that our attitudes are also within our ability to take action and be proactive. After all, our attitudes are formulated from how we interpret our surroundings, situations, but also ourselves and our inner responses. Come, take a look...
I was reading this article in Psychology Today about how the ability to control our emotional responses is a skill to be developed, not a gift that you either have or don't. But if the only times we try to exercise such control is during these high drama, extreme situations, then we haven't developed the skill through regular practice enough to tackle it! Could you imagine - exercising our brains for greater emotional depth and satisfaction, and not just intellectual?
But let's back up to what stumps most of us... the premise: WE have the ability to control our emotional responses. So, not your parents? Nope. Not your significant other? Uh uh. Not your boss, traffic, or politics? Not at all.
But my dad is calling every hour, on the hour, and if he calls one more time, I'm gonna kill him! Are you, really? Or could you ask him to stop calling and let him know you'll call him when you get home that night? Or maybe you could just turn off the phone until you can call him back?
This reminds me of the move He's Just Not That Into You (2009) when Justin Long's character (Alex) explains to Ginnifer Goodwin's character (Gigi) that sometimes we allow ourselves to react this way for the drama. We thrive on the drama, and might not know what to do with ourselves if we didn't have something to panic about. I think part of becoming an adult is coming to terms with the notion that there will ALWAYS be something you CAN panic about, but it's a waste of precious time.
The point is we still have the ability to absorb that potentially negative energy, and, through our active involvement with it, turn it into a positive experience. It used to be thought that when you meditate that you should inhale all of the positivity surrounding you and then exhale all the negativity stored up inside you. It's a nice thought, and understandably the intention behind it is to "let go". However, it leaves anyone and everyone around you to deal with the negativity you've put out there, and leaves you feeling dependent on the positivity being provided by the outside environment (which you cannot control). It has only been in recent years that I've learned it should actually be the opposite - breathe in the negativity, embrace it, love it, and let it flow out of you, now changed into a beautiful part of you. Now, you're putting light and love into the world, and YOU have the power to brighten any Little Black Rain Cloud. It's an empowering thought, isn't it?
I know, we've seen the magnets, the mugs, the journals, but it doesn't make the quote any less true.
So, this whole rigamarole brings us back to "I am my own worst enemy". And the moment I though it, I felt this weight, a dead weight, just sitting on my shoulders, making me headachy.
'I can't live like this, feeling like my own mind is killing me', I thought.
And why should I? Wasn't I the one who could take action, make a choice, and change? Wasn't I the one telling myself that I was an enemy? Well, then, it's time to tell myself something new...
"What if... I am my own best friend." And I felt relieved.
I know it's not as noble or heroic as saving a stranger, foaming at the mouth, but the first life you should try to save is your own.
So, my readers...
What do you tell yourself? And how does it affect you?
In honor of my mother's birthday today, I will avoid today's Word-of-the-Day (gangrel - a lanky, loose-jointed person) in favor of yesterday's more fitting word:
procellous [proh-SEL-uhs] -adjective : Stormy, as the sea
Guide your way through the storm, my friends, and I shall meet you there.