Dying Daily #352: Difficult Responses

“Do you really believe that what people do doesn’t matter? Is your response really all you care about?”

People Matter. So Does Your Response.

Yes and no.

Yes, I do believe that my response to what people do is what matters because it is all I have control over. Yes, I do think that what people do is often neutral, and I just dislike it because it is inconvenient for me. These things are true.

But also, no.

I very much believe that what we all do matters, and I do care about the choices people make and how they behave. I would not be writing a daily blog if I didn’t. I wouldn’t be a counselor, and I wouldn’t work as hard as I do. I wouldn’t be invested in teaching meditation.

Response to Difficult People

Of course what other people do matters and affects us. I very often see people approach situations in their lives in a way that is unskillful, and very often harmful. A great deal of what I walk with people through is a result of things other people have done to them. We are not isolated beings unaffected by those around us.

We are a messy, mean and stupid species in so many ways. We are suicidally disinterested in being intentional in our lives, and almost completely self-absorbed. This seems fairly obvious. There is no way around the fact that my life would be much less complicated and much more peaceful without other people in it. The same is probably true of yours.

But, the uncomfortable thing about all of this is that all the stupid, messy stuff that people do makes sense to them. There is some kind of math going on in their head that makes it seem like a good idea. They have a reason for it, and you most likely won’t be able to talk them out of it in any real way very quickly. For all we know, they are making the right choice for themselves too. Inconvenient for me does not equal wrong.

Your Response Is All You Have

So, it all comes down to our response to the things we cannot control. It all comes down to how we react to the things that happen to us, whether they happen because of other people or not. To get caught up in how someone else should have behaved or what they should have done is foolish.

Respond with compassion.

Be kind.

Put yourself in their shoes.

Understand that you are not perfect.

Deal with what is in front of you.

Focus on how you respond to that.

I promise, it will keep you busy.

So yes, what other people do matters and it can affect us. But no, I do not think there is much purpose in getting too invested in things that are beyond our control. We can offer help when people ask for it, but it is still within their control.

My response is all I’ve got. That’s where I put my energy.