Picture by Zanastardust
It’s something I’ve been fighting against lately. That I am responsible for the conditions in my life. There has been lots of things bothering me lately; noisy neighbors, work overload, traffic, weather, and an ever-growing to-do list. When so many things are causing stress and headaches, it’s so easy (and somewhat comforting) to blame others. Thinking things like “My company is too demanding and doesn’t understand my workload, my neighbors are inconsiderate and rude, or that driver is stupid and blind.”
The good news is that all those improvements you want to see in others, can begin with you. A good example that pops into my head is the dog training show The Dog Whisperer on National Geographic. Have you seen when Cesar brings in a “good dog” to show the other dog how to behave? Often the barking, jumping, wild dog will initially approach the new dog with this loud, aggressive attitude. The good dog doesn’t like this and will turn away and go lay down away from the troublemaker. It doesn’t take long before the troublemaker is calmly sitting down, watching every move the good dog makes. Why? Because all that boisterous, hyper troublemaker wants is attention. Or exercise. Or both. It wants good dog to notice it and to interact. When good dog ignores it, it learns it must change its behavior to get what it wants.
Years ago while reading self-help books I came across this wise advice “if you want to change those around you, first you must change yourself.” When we act in a different manner or with a new attitude, others see this and must decide how to respond. They can keep on acting in the same way as before, but it will not get the same results. It’s like a bully who finds that over the summer the kid he was pushing around has grown taller than him. When one person changes, often so do the others.
Now of course just because you change does not mean the rest of the world suddenly becomes paradise. But the good news is that we have a choice. Instead of whining and complaining about how unfair everything is and how nobody does what you want, you can start saying “I’m glad that no one else has control over me. They can’t make me miserable or unhappy unless I let them.” Then look for the positive in your situation.
Here is an example from me. I don’t like my job right now. There are many, many things I would change about it. So yesterday I forced myself to make a list of the things that are good about it. Here’s what I got:
- I work within 3 miles of my house so I save lots of money on gas. (My old job was 20 miles each way.)
- My office allows a flex schedule, so I can come in early or stay late to make up time for doctors appointments and things. Then I can use my vacation time strictly for vacations.
- My boss has a laid-back style. She doesn’t watch over my shoulder or constantly correct me, but is there to help me if I need it.
- My office is convenient to shopping and restaurants. I can go out to lunch or do shopping after work and save time since it’s right next to the office.
- I make a good steady paycheck and have health benefits. Many people don’t right now. Also, all the work I have to do means that for the next 6 months at least I know I have job security.
Now obviously this doesn’t change the things I don’t like about my job. But surprisingly (to me at least), this list does help me feel better about being there. I could still complain about things, but with no other job prospects in this tight economy, and people still losing their jobs, that doesn’t help me. What makes my days there better is knowing that there are positive aspects to my job if I just bother to look for them.
I hope this reminder can be of use to you, like it was to me. I was stuck in the blame game again – and I know better. Recognizing our own power and using it to our advantage is a great help. And we’ll feel better about our lives in the process. Remember positive change starts with you.