Excerpt from Life Transitions, Managing Change
Creating Your Future
It has been said the path to your greatest personal growth is through your problems. You are invited to embrace your problems for unless you have them, they will have you. There’s a huge difference between the two. You will always have problems. Life is a puzzle. The difference between someone who suffers from their problems and someone who learns and grows from them is in how you take them on. Your future will depend entirely on how you deal with your problems.
Taking a New Approach — From Reaction to Creation
It is normal, understandable, and human to react negatively to the difficult times you might face. However, you want to be very clear that the stress and suffering you have is a result of how you choose to react. It is also possible to take on your problems with a minimum stress. If you choose to create rather than react, perhaps, there will be no suffering at all. It will be helpful if you can envision the whole chain of reactions, which shape your usual reaction to things. The goal is to turn reaction into creation. But first, look at the flow as it usually occurs.
For most people, circumstances determine how they feel and operate in life. If things are pretty good, they feel good. If something breaks down, they get upset. If you live this way, your experience of life must be like a roller coaster because things go from good to bad and bad to good on a regular basis. For most people, there are always enough circumstances to make life tough, if not downright stressful. You have taken the first step in shaping how you react to circumstances by choosing how you view your own circumstances. This is the first step in shifting out of reaction. Let’s look at a flow chart and see how important this step really can be.
The Flow Chart – Reaction
(Start from the bottom to see the reaction sequence.)
Outcomes and Results
(Eventually our future will come from the actions we take or don’t take regarding the circumstances we are dealing with.)
(Actions we undertake, things we do or don’t do about circumstances, all stem from what we feel. Our emotions are our motivators. Being angry, sad, or depressed are not always great motivators.)
(Attitude and thoughts bring up feelings. Emotions hold the energy for what we feel and what we will do. If we react negatively to our circumstances, then, stress eats at us. Every time we run the upsetting thoughts through our head, we feel those same upsetting emotions.)
(Attitude is a gathering of thoughts, conversations, and agreements. What I think is right and true becomes the way I think about the situation. If my reaction is negative, then, my initial attitude will be negative also.)
(We have an immediate reaction: Is this going to be good or bad for me? The interpretation that circumstances are bad causes a negative reaction.)
(Things that matter enough to cause us to react such as no job, financial problems, kid(s) in trouble, or transportation issues.)
Learning A Better Way
You can see from the flow chart that our response to stressful circumstances is usually determined by the reactions we have to them. This begins with our basic interpretation of events, whether we like them or not, and it goes from there. What if, instead of reacting to circumstances, we create our response from a different place?
Let’s use the future we would like for ourselves as a place to come from in determining how we take on tough parts of our lives. This is a much wiser option. We all want a future that works for us where we are successful and happy. The question is what does it take to make that happen?
Drawn Forward By the Future
While your future is unknown and uncertain, you have the power to steer your life into a future worth having. Everyone wants a future where you can love your life. The most important question for you to ask is, “Who do I have to be to make the future I want?” To have a successful future, you will have to act in ways that can make it happen. This is the principal behind shifting reaction to creation.
Let’s take another look at the flow chart and see how the future you want can determine the ways you respond to difficulties you face. This time, instead of starting at the bottom, start at the top with the outcomes you want and observe how that determines how you will act, feel, and the attitude necessary to put your mind to work for you.
The Flow Chart
(Start at the top with the outcomes you want.)
Outcomes and Results
(Create an idea or a vision for the future you want. From your vision, create goals that will help you understand what you must do to make a better future.)
(The actions you now take are aimed at making your desired goals happen. Behaviors and actions consistent with your goals is the surest way to have positive movement in your life.
(Next, you must create emotions and feelings that naturally motivate you toward reaching your goals.)
(The way to create a good attitude is by encouraging yourself to feel positive, confident, and determined. These new thoughts will keep you striving toward the life you want.)
(Armed with a new attitude, you are free to re-interpret your circumstances. Instead of seeing the circumstances as either good or bad, you may see the problems you face as perfect.)
(Things that matter enough to cause us to react, such as no job, financial problems, kid(s) in trouble, or transportation issues. Now you can have an effective and powerful response to these situations instead of just suffering. Putting your personal power to work for you is the most useful response to stress.)
While you have many choices to the path to your future, the path you select is YOURS. You choose if you want to be happy; happiness is a choice you make. Your career and friends are other choices you must make. So, as you decide what you want out of your future, you must take responsibility for that future. Attitude, interpretation, behavior and emotions all will determine the outcome of your future. A smile can affect your attitude, which controls your emotion, which then, drives your outcome. So, if nothing else start with a smile and a positive attitude, it may do wonders for you. △