Friday, 18 November 2011

I Control How I Experience Life

How do you interpret the title of this article? For me, it means that I am responsible for how I experience the events, situations and people in my life. I do not blame others for my experience, nor do I allow them to blame me for their actions. I am responsible for my life and my life only. For example, if somebody smashes into my parked car, I am not responsible for them doing so. I am however, responsible for how I respond. I could get furious and want to belt them up. I could get sad and burst into tears. I could have compassion and check that the person is not hurt or suffering. So you see, for the same event there are a number of different responses. It is evident that the incident is not the cause of the experience. Otherwise for every single event, everyone would have exactly the same experience, every single time.

In our lives we often feel that the events, situations and other people are the cause of our experience in life. We blame others, making them responsible for our lives. This thinking that others have that much control over us, over our feelings and emotions is a victim mentality. This is a very disempowering place to be in because you are giving the power of your life to others. You are making them responsible for your emotions. Do you want to be responsible for how everyone else is feeling? Most of us would answer a definite NO! So why would you want to make anyone else responsible for how you are feeling? Sorry but you can't have it both ways.

So why should you control how you experience life? The basic answer is that by taking on that control and responsibility for your life, you are empowered. You control what you feel and think. You have the power to experience any incident in whichever way you choose.

The more meaningful answer is that you can also discover the original beginnings of your emotional reactions. In other words, you can ask yourself 'why am I reacting to this event this way?' For example, you may get angry when a teacher, coach or friend gives you some advice or feedback with the hope that it helps you improve. Because, you are in control of your experience, you can ask yourself "Is there any patterns to getting angry?' "When previously have I felt anger?', 'What stories do I attach to the events?' or 'What are the actual facts?'

Within each event, we can discern facts, judgments and emotions. A fact is a measurable, quantifiable, objective and observable notion. A judgment is your personal perception, or interpretation and a story. Judgments are subjective. An emotion is how we feel about the event. There are seven basic emotions. These are anger, sadness, fear, shame, excitement, joy and love. These emotions come in different varieties, such as frustration and rage are degrees of anger.

As you ask questions about your experience of an event, you will start to learn that the emotion you are learning is linked to the judgment you make rather than the facts of the situation. Let's look at our example. A teacher gives you some feedback about an assignment. You may judge that this teacher is being pompous. Through questioning yourself, you come to realise that as a kid your dad always was telling you what to do and how to do it. You hated this and you are still quite angry about it. So when your teacher gives you advice, you respond as if you are hearing your dad telling you what to do. By separating the facts from the judgments and the emotions, you are able to respond differently with your teacher. You can learn that your reaction is your own and has nothing to do with your teacher. They are merely trying to help you by giving you advice. So instead of getting angry when others give you counsel, you are able to just listen without judgment and decide if you will do anything with the information.

When you take control of your life you have the power over what you experience. You are no longer controlled by your reactions. And then you can create the life that you really want.

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