I truly believe, with every fiber of my being, that the most important factor in life IS NOT what happens to us, but rather it is HOW WE RESPOND to what happens to us! And for the most part, how we respond to what happens to us is habitual. In other words, when something happens, we don’t think about how to respond, we just automatically respond the way we’ve always responded to similar occurrences.
These learned habitual responses are formed during our childhood and if they are not modified or adjusted, they will continue throughout our adulthood. This is what I believe is the problem in many situations in our country today!
A child is naturally selfish, self-centered, and insists on having its own way. When that is denied, the child responds with a temper tantrum, which involves aggressive behaviors. As part of the child’s social development, a good parent teaches the child how to share, how to respect the property of others, how to accept disappointment, how to accept ’No’ for an answer. All of this is part of the child’s maturing process.
I believe what we are witnessing in our culture today are the actions, responses, attitudes of people who have reached the age of maturity, but have yet to mature! At the same time, we are also witnessing the actions of children who have been allowed access to ‘grown-up toys’ too soon!
The Apostle Paul said: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11 NET) But it’s hard to put away childish ways when they have been allowed to grow uninhibited to the point where they have been habitually ingrained into the subconscious.
The answer? Be conscious! Nearly 95% of what we do every day is done as a subconscious habit! In other words, we live most of our life on autopilot! For instance, if I were to ask you: “What shoe did you put on first this morning?” More than likely, you couldn’t tell me! But I can tell you that it was the same one you put on first every morning!
So, here’s your homework. Tomorrow morning BEFORE you put on your shoes STOP! Take note of which one you reach for, and then put on the other one first! Try this every day for at least 21 days! It will be hard at first, but if you are consistent and don’t cheat, by the end of the 21 days, you will be putting on the opposite shoe with the same ease as you were putting on the other shoe!
Now, after you’ve mastered that, stop and think about the non-productive or negative responses to situations you always find yourself engaging in. Then, the next time a ‘trigger’ situation occurs, BEFORE, you respond STOP AND THINK: Is my response appropriate or proportional to the situation? Am I trying to kill a roach with a hammer?
You see, you respond that way because you have always (habitually) responded that way! It just might be that your response is inappropriate and non-productive. If that is the case, then you need to change your response!
Don’t settle for the false belief that that’s just the way you are and you can’t change because you can! You can change any response the same way you can change what shoe you put on first every morning!
Change your thinking; change your habits! Change your habits; change your responses! Change your responses; change your life!
Remember, it’s not the problem that’s the problem! It’s how you respond to the problem, that’s the problem! And often times, if you would just stop and think instead of just automatically responding the way you’ve always responded, you just might discover that the problem is not a problem at all!