I shared this comment on my most powerful lesson I’ve ever learned on another blog, but I thought it would be good to share here.
One of the most powerful lessons I have ever learned is that I can only control myself. It doesn’t matter how much I scream, yell, beg, demand, whatever, I can only control myself and how I react to situations.
Seriously, this knowledge has brought me a profound sense of peace. I cannot change or control another person, I can only control or change myself. This gives me the permission I need to stop being a victim and instead be powerfully engaged in my own life. This also gives me the insight to see how I am contributing to a problem instead of laying blame at the feet of everyone else.
How I gained this knowledge is really quite silly. My kids used to go to an elementary school where I had to pick them up each day. Sure, they could have walked to school, but they would have had to cross a very busy street with a less than competent crossing guard. And they lived too close to ride the bus. Anyway, the parking lot was really small and the parents who picked up their kids there were so rude. I tried to always be patient and considerate while others did not. They would pull into the pass through lane and then bud ahead of everyone in line to pick their kids up first. After watching a teacher let 5 or 6 cars do this one day, I got out of my car and yelled at the teacher for not sending those parents to the back of the line. Parents would also park in the pick-up lane and get out and get their kids, leaving their car as an impediment to the progress of the pick-up lane. After two years of enduring this and becoming increasingly pissed off every day and being in a bad mood for my kids, I suddenly realized that all my complaining, all my bad moods, all my yelling at teachers changed nothing. Those inconsiderate parents were still inconsiderate. So I changed my behavior. I timed it just right so that I left my house every day so I would be the last parent to pick my kids up. I never had to deal with a long line, inconsiderate parents, or waiting ever again. Now, I’m so glad we live in an area where it’s close enough for my kids to walk without crossing any busy streets.
You have to be a healthy, happy, joyful, whole person whether or not situations or other people ever change.