Stop Starting Wars October 7, 2014 – Posted in: Confidence, Leaders and Teams, Personal Development – Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been realising increasingly that happiness or being ‘sorted’ is not about how my life looks from the outside but how I choose to respond to whatever happens. If I respond in fear or frustration I am likely to make a situation worse (or certainly feel worse about it) but, if I respond from a place of acceptance and calm I will likely retain my sense of balance and I then stand a far better chance of positively affecting the situation.

Knowing this and, crucially, acting upon it can seriously boost your confidence. So, how does it work…?

Let’s imagine you receive an email with an invoice for double the amount you were expecting. What is your likely response? If you’re like many people you’re likely to feel panic, fear, nausea and maybe defensiveness (“How dare they charge me more than we agreed?!”). These emotions would swiftly be followed by a period of fretting before firing off a stinging email in response demanding the situation be reviewed. These responses are utterly normal but are they the most helpful to your peace of mind or the resolution of the situation?

An alternative response could be to firstly breathe and attend to the fear (i.e. remind yourself that everything is OK and will continue to be OK – that this is just a block in the road to be navigated). Next, you could accept that this invoice has arrived and send a response asking calmly for an explanation as to the increased amount. Keeping yourself open to the possibility that the bill has arrived in error and/or that you will find a way to pay more if you have to means you retain your power and calm in the situation. You have opened a negotiation rather than started a war…

Choosing your response to situations and people takes practice but the results are life changing. You can complain about being stuck in traffic or accept the situation and use the time to think, breathe or listen to that podcast you’ve been meaning to play for weeks. Neither response will change the situation but the second one will change your experience of the moment you are in. Similarly, if someone shouts at you, you can choose to yell back or gently ask him or her to speak to you when they are calmer.

My point is that you have a choice. It’s not always an easy one to make but the more you choose acceptance, respect and self-care the more your self-esteem will build. I know because it’s stuff I practice all the time and I’ve seen the benefits in my own (and my clients’) lives.


This blog post first appeared as an article in my Life Column in The Bath Magazine.

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