Monday, 5 August 2013

We have power to select our response

Have you ever in your life blaming other people or circumstance for what you have to counter ?.  I'll give you a very simple example, you are in bad mood, grumpy all day long and when asked why, you'll said "I cannot be happy today because my brother eat my favorite cake and left nothing for me.".  It's like blaming the stimulus (brother eat cake and left nothing) for your response (sadness).  Well, this phenomenon is normal in our life, everybody will react the same, grumpy all day long when something bad happen to them.  And there's even a believe that it's our nature to be sad or angry if something bad happen to us,  we'll felt like we are the victim of the situation and make pity of ourselves "look at me, I'm the most innocent creature on earth, but people keep hurting me, how pity I am." We make genetics, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning as a reason of what we give out in our life.

As taken from 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey

Somehow there's a terminology in which describe this type of phenomenon, it's called as 'reactive'.  Reactive means we, by conscious decision or by default, chosen to empower those things to control us.Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment.  If the weather is good, they feel good. If it is not, it affects their attitude and their performance. While the opposition of the reactive is become proactive. Proactive means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives.  Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.  We can subordinate feelings to values.  We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.Responsibility - "response-ability" - the ability to choose your response.  Highly proactive person recognize that responsibility.  They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their conscious choice.

Proactive Model
Proactive people can carry their own weather with them.  whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them.  They are value driven.  While reactive people are effected by their social environment, by the 'social weather'.  When people treat them well , they feel well, when people don't, they become defensive or protective.  Reactive people build their emotional lives around the behavior of others, empowering the weaknesses of other people to control them.  Proactive people are still influence by external stimuli, whether physical, social, or psychological.  But their response to the stimuli is a value-based choice or response.

As Eleanor Roosevelt observed, "No one can hurt you without your consent." In the words of Gandhi " They cannot take away our self respect if we do not give it to them." It's our willing permission, our consent to what happen to us, that hurt us far more than what happen to us in the first place.

This is of course very hard to accept emotionally, especially after we have had years and years of explaining our misery in the name of circumstance or someone else's behavior.

This is the language of reactive people to evade their responsibility :

" that's me. That's just the way I am." - I am determine, there's nothing I can do about it.
"He makes me so mad!" - I'm not responsible . My emotional life is governed by something outside my control.
"I can't do that. I just don't have the time."- something outside me (limited time) is controlling me.
"If only my wife were more patient."- Someone else's behavior is limiting my effectiveness.
"I have to do it." - Circumstances or other people are forcing me to do what I do. I'm not free to choose my own action.

How to overcome this reactivity ? We should aware that we have responsibility upon what we give out,  let's look deep inside us rather than blaming other factors. In this 7 habits of highly effective people, Covey has outlined a step by step way to change reactive habit into proactive habit.  
But what I want to highlight here is, whatever your circumstance, condition, or situation, you always have a choice how to give response.  Who said when you are in bad situation you should feel bad and make other feel bad too? It's more to doctrin rather than what it should be.

I want to make this more specific to what I really want to convey.  In our lives, we see when something bad happen to us, we intend to react according to that situation , bad - bad , sad - sad , happy - happy , good - good . For instance if we lost job, someone make us mad, broke with our spouse, or any bad situation that you could think of ~ happen, what most of us react ? in the context of emotion , how ? grumpy all day long, keep blaming the situation for disturbing our emotion  and make people around us feel bad too. Even though people around us should understand and sympathy with us, but what's oppose us to keep a positive attitude  ?
I have this question in mind "it is necessary for us to show our grumpy or sad face when something bad happen and make others feel bad too ? or maybe I can keep smile, keep cheering other, and join the happiness around me ? " 

The problem with most of us is, we think it's natural to act like what have been mention above because that's the way we have been brought to since we were kid. But the thing is now, we want to change ! We want to make the better us , we want to develop ourselves, we want to give out a positive energy to our surroundings, we want to be the most highly effective people to achieve our objective . Due to that, we have to start control our response. 

Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.( Quran 13:11)
By selecting to what we want to give out for that particular situation, it means we empower our own decision rather than empower the situation to control us.