Monday’s Meditation: On Making Decisions & Dealing With Reactions To Them
It’s not about you, it’s about them.
My clients are constantly relaying anecdotes to me about how their friends or family react to the news of our work.
They tell me how they mentioned to a best friend that they got rid of all their elementary school yearbooks, and said friend was utterly aghast. Or how their mom was totally appalled to hear he or she had decided not to save any of their kids’ old baby clothes. Or how their neighbor confessed they couldn’t imagine getting rid of the load of stuff my client had.
These reactions are automatic, mostly unhelpful exclamations of surprise that reflect the way in which we relate to one another: that is, we find it extremely difficult not to implant ourselves into a scenario and hypothesize how we would have handled the situation.
For the person who may be starting out on a new path, not yet fully confident in their decisions, those discordant, doubtful, disbelieving reactions can be just enough to thwart further progress, cultivating little bits of anxiety and unsureness as they do.
The news-sharer, who was, moments before, feeling like the heroine of her own life at last, starts to feel a quiet leak inside herself: Should I have? Should I not have? Did I make a mistake? Debbie keeps all her kids’ baby clothes. Are my kids going to hate me one day for having gotten rid of theirs?
On and on; all questions that would have already been asked and answered prior to arriving at the ultimate decision.
And the ball of comparison gets punted back again.
But other people’s reactions are not really about you. They are merely a representation of how the news of your decisions inherently causes others to begin questioning their own motivations and decisions. Any doubt or discomfort that follows is already no longer about you, but about how their own decisions compare.
You don’t mean for it to happen or even realize it is, but every decision you make is contributing to a much larger chain of actions.
You can either allow these kinds of reactions to stifle your progress, or you can take them as a sign of your being a leader.
Leaders rarely do things as everyone else does. They often incite strong reactions and act as catalysts for change.
The best you can hope to be is a person so content and fulfilled on your path that you inspire others to pursue theirs as well. No proselytizing, no comparisons. Just sound decision-making, consistency, and self-reliance.
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