Last Saturday I got a phone call from a relative who was experiencing computer problems and they needed help. Computers are not this person’s thing, so when something with their computer goes wrong, it’s a catastrophe for them. This case was no exception. They were frustrated, stressed out, worked up, and not handling it very well.
As I was helping them solve their computer issue, it would have been easy to let this person’s stress and negative energy cause me to become stressed out and irritable as well. (In the past, that’s exactly what I would have done!) But a negative response to a stressful situation is not a forgone conclusion, it’s a choice.
I think that’s good news! If our negative response to a stressful situation is a choice, that means we can choose to respond positively instead.
Other people don’t make us behave poorly or bring out the worst in us. The more accurate statement is that we chose to behave poorly around them.
While that comment stings a little, it also reminds me that other people don’t have control over how I respond to them, unless I hand control over to them. Ultimately, we are each responsible for our responses, regardless of the influence of others. And for that, I’m thankful.
The next time you feel yourself getting stressed out or worked up because of someone else’s negative influence, pause for a moment and remember that how you respond is your choice. Then, choose how you ‘d like to respond.