As you stood there at the appointment meeting place, your friend is nowhere to be seen even after 10 minutes. Angry…and even nasty thoughts raced through your mind in the split of a few minutes:
Why is he always late? Doesn’t he have any respect for my time?
He knows I HATE people who are not punctual. And yet, why he keep doing this to ME?
I am going to give him a piece of my mind when he comes…or maybe, I should just walk off and not answer his calls. Let him have a taste of his own medicine
No wonder he cannot get ahead in life- he can’t even get this simple thing done right- what more so for more important things in life? What a loser!
By the time your friend finally shows up, the thoughts that had raced through your mind build themselves up to a crescendo. Even though your friend apologizes profusely, you are convinced that he does not have respect for you. So the entire outing became very unpleasant, with your angry face turning into ugly shades (we may be shocked at how horrible we look when we are controlled by anger). It was an outing that you have looked forward to but now, no words, expect monosable answers you give when being spoken to. You had hoped that your friend would start being more punctual but the next time, he is late….again.
So how do you react to such situation?
The solution is, you don’t react. But instead, learn to respond.
Is there a difference between reacting and responding?
When we look at the scenario above, the person is essentially reacting to the situation. When we react, we place the outcome of our happiness and joy, suffering or sorrow at external forces. If the situation is to our favor, we are elated, happy and may even celebrate it. However, if the chips are down, we became unhappy, or overeat, or just zone out and watch TV, or abuse substance (alcohol, cigarettes, drugs).
Going through life in such a manner is very self defeating. Instead, you learn to RESPOND.
You know your friend would likely to be late so make arrangements to meet at a place where you have something else to do instead of standing there and looking silly like someone who is being stood up on a date. Meet in places like inside a shopping area or if it is during office hours- then in front of the postal office where you can run your errands. Take your time to browse and enjoy and ask your friend to give you a miss call when he has arrived. Or bring your favorite book or magazine with you or something that you can do.
Because you know that you are a punctual person, and even though people are generally late, you don’t want to compromise your principals. So don’t. But don’t react as if your friend had suddenly become your enemy.
I know it’s not sexy or satisfying to your ego to choose not to react and give the fella a piece of your mind of what you think he is worth- probably less than the scums on earth. But becareful- in an angry state of mind, your words are driven by emotion and they would be words that you would wish you could take back later. People never forget deep hurtful words and it’s hard for the relationship to be ever the same again.
But as you learn to practice to shift away the deciding factor of your happiness index- back to yourself from someone/ something external, you will get less psychologically and emotionally affected by whatever life throws at you.
In any situation, if you are willing to rise above your moods and simply respond positively, you will be amazed at how the people around you change. If there is tension in your home or office, by choosing not to react to negative situations with negative reactions, people would subconsciously pick up your positive vibes and become positive at least when they are around you.
Really, it’s no fun dwelling in your misery, self-righteousness and anger. I still vividly remember on 22 July 2008, I sat beside a respected teacher who suddenly turned to me and advised me to try to help a certain group of people. Because I was the only one who is capable to do so at that time. I told her, it is impossible- I hated those people. It’s lucky that I do not wish that they end up in a fiery destination (ok, I secretly do wish that during that time). She said, I should learn to forgive, for I am just burning my heart with anger. These people are suffering and they need help now. She asked me not to go about life only helping people I like but having no compassion for those whom I disliked. She then told me her own life story of how she was betrayed by her own family and how she forgave the person.
I still remembered telling her- ‘this is you, It’s because of your great capabilities that you have accomplished so much today. But I can’t because it’s just not in me to be like you. I just cannot forgive.’
Yet today, more than a year later, I did find in my heart to forgive them. Because I understand that people do mean things when they are ignorant and when all they want is happiness but they are seeking it from the wrong place. I did not know who benefited more from that act of forgiveness- them or me. At the point when the heart truly forgives, the heart is set free. And huge bricks of unhappiness are removed from your shoulders. You will feel lighter, and free. And your life will change. It is something you cannot just read and logically debate about- it’s something you have to do to experience it for yourself.
The question is, are you willing to go against the grain and learn to respond (instead of react), let go and forgive?
It’s the greatest gift that you would be able to give yourself.