“The Master does nothing, yet he leaves nothing undone.” – Tao Te Ching
This week’s column is inspired by my experience preparing for a meeting in our district. I am coming to appreciate these meetings for the amount of material they provide for me to write about. This week I was nervous and tempted to either go in fighting, or run and hide from a relatively simple meeting that was scheduled with a parent and a group of educators. I ended up doing neither and letting that be a victory in itself. As is the case with many of the students I work with, not doing the thing that usually gets in the way of my success proved to be a good idea.
It is likely that you are also due for some self-appreciation. I am guessing that you have faced many challenging situations on this very day. Every time you chose to step back and be loving, or even neutral, rather than reacting out of upset was a step in the right direction. Those moments when someone cut you off in traffic and you took a deep breath, or when someone interrupted you during your favorite activity and you opted to give them your attention instead of a piece of your mind, were a big deal in the flow of someone’s day. Even if it seems like nothing happened, something did happen. You chose not to do something that you could have easily done.
As the Inclusion Specialist, I work with students to help them see the effects that their choices have on their life experiences. One of my students, who has been doing exceptionally well in school, was going through a challenge with her mother at home. It seemed that despite her progress, her mother was not satisfied. My student, who is now a young adult, was not sure what to do. As we were talking, it became clear that there really was nothing for her to do. She had done a great job and was presented with someone who was not satisfied with her performance. Taking action out of her upset feelings would only get her further tangled into the drama that had nothing to do with her. The fact that she was talking with me about what was going on, rather than arguing with her mother, was a sign that she had already made great progress. The real proof came a few weeks later when her mother apologized and acknowledged the hard work my student had been doing.
Most of the time, when someone pushes our buttons we either run toward the person with a comeback of our own, or we run away from the person and hold on to the upset. Those moments, when we are able to stand back and see that the other person’s comments or actions had nothing to do with us, are the moments that we take a step forward in our personal growth, and experience a greater level of emotional freedom in our lives. This is the ultimate goal of doing what it takes to be responsible for our own well-being. The satisfaction that accompanies not having to react to someone else’s upset is worth the work.
So give yourself some credit. There have been times in your day, and your life, where you refrained from getting involved in the drama that was going on around you. That is a big deal. By doing so, you freed yourself to experience the more enjoyable things that were happening in your life, and you saved someone else the energy they would have wasted if you had engaged. If there is a situation that has been sucking you in, it is okay. Take a moment to send love to everyone involved. Give yourself the kindness that you deserve. There is a great acronym, HALT, that reminds us that we all tend to act foolishly when we are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. So care for yourself, and remind yourself that all challenging situations will pass. They will pass even faster if you relax and let them go.
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District. He is also co-host of the popular radio show, Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed, live each week, Wednesdays at 3 p.m. on www.UnityOnlineRadio.org. Visit www.TappingIntoGenius.com for more articles and a free, inspirational parenting download.