How to Be Proactive

Tired of feeling frustrated? Aggravated by the way the world seems to be functioning, feeling one way in your heart but watching all the people moving through life as though all the things that frustrate you are perfectly normal and acceptable to them?


Are you starting to feel depressed by it? Do you feel defeated, unheard, disrespected because you believe your feelings and opinions should be just as valid as anyone else’s?


Well, let’s do something about it.


What can we do about it?


Well, we can’t change the outside world. There are powers in place making rules whether we like them or not. The only things we have control over in this life are our thoughts, actions, and reactions. How have you been reacting? With anger? Shouting from a metaphorical soapbox? Fighting or arguing? Stressing yourself out by either trying to buck the system or dealing with the backlash?


How’s that working out for you?


Let’s go back to the concept of reaction. How you respond to a circumstance that is out of your control makes all the difference. Some things are just out of your control.


Let me share a belief I have with you: Everything happens for a GOOD and purposeful reason. Everything. Every traffic jam that makes you late, every conversation you have with anybody, any book or article you pick up and read, every power outage, every accident, every weather change, everything. The way the world is going right now is happening for a GOOD and purposeful reason.


Hard to believe that? I get it. When I had a stroke a few years ago it was hard for me to believe this could be happening for a good reason - something that would ultimately benefit me. But, I got through the experience with that belief, and the patience in knowing I wouldn’t know the benefit right away, and the trust that I would eventually understand it.


That’s what’s going on now. We’re experiencing the world having a metaphorical stroke. We don’t get to see how this is going to work out for our benefit. YET.


So instead of being pissed off about it, let’s cultivate some proactivity. In what ways can we guide this toward benefiting us, via our REACTION to it?


More angry screaming? More preaching from a soapbox?


That didn’t work the first time. So scratch that idea.


What else? Well, let’s take a look at what we’re ultimately afraid of.


A lot of people in my community are very concerned about their kids at school having to cover their faces, so this might be a good example to start with. It’s been mandated. We can either shake our fists and scream and shout about it, or we can roll with it and be proactive about it.


Being proactive is not hard-wired into our normal daily functioning, though. But, we can rewire ourselves to create new habits, both mentally and physically - kind of like how this past year and a half has hopefully rewired a lot of people to wash their hands before they eat or after they use the bathroom, and that habit has become part of your daily functioning. Let’s get a new mental habit to form, because, like I said, all we can control is our thoughts and actions.


So to be proactive, we start by asking, what do we not like about this situation? What are we afraid of?


Let me start out with a more universal example, like all the power plants shutting down. I’m all for clean, green energy. I’m all on board for saving planet Earth. A lot of people are freaking out about the jobs that will be lost because of all of these plants shutting down. My concern is, do we have a back-up plan for where our energy will be coming from? Are people working on a clean energy source so I can keep my lights on and my food cold? Because I haven’t heard anything so far. Maybe there is. Do they have the kinks worked out? Because I’d sure hate to get a surprise like Texas got last winter. This is being proactive. It’s changing a situation with positive intention, and being prepared for any negative consequences.


The main argument is that these face coverings are for a positive intention - to keep people safe and healthy. I’m not here to debate that. Frankly, I’m tired of debating that. I can’t control the fact that there’s a huge divide of opinions going on - such a divide, in fact, that nobody is even willing to pause and rationally listen to what the other side has to say. This is something we cannot control. So it goes back to our actions. What CAN we do?


We go within, and ask ourselves, “Why am I so against this? Why am I so upset about this? Why don’t I like my kid’s face covered?”


Here’s a common answer I’ve heard: “Well, I’m afraid of the bacteria that collects on the inside of them, that they’re breathing back in.”


I’m not here to argue if that’s right or wrong. But if you feel this way, you’re allowed to be concerned, because you’re simply caring about your kid’s health and well-being, and what’s so wrong with that? But you can either homeschool them, or send them to school and follow rules you don’t like. If you chose the latter, then what ways can you be proactive about their health?


How about boost their immune systems with supplements like elderberry, vitamins, and probiotics? My kids have been pretty healthy with this method, but that’s what works for us. You find what works for you and go with it.


What’s another concern? I’ve heard this a few times: “I’m afraid of their oxygen intake being restricted.”


Okay, again, you care about your kid’s health and that’s not wrong. So that’s not the debate here. But you still have to follow the rules, or keep your kid home and homeschool them. So, how can you be proactive about this?


Maybe start a mindfulness practice that includes deep breathing techniques in the morning and evening. Spend more time in nature. Those are great ways to improve oxygen intake.


What else are you afraid of? I’ve heard several parents express concern about half of their face being covered, and their facial expressions being severely limited from view, as well as their ability to read others’ facial expressions.


This is a pretty valid concern, in my opinion, and here’s an example from The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel van der Kolk, MD that explains why this could be a concern:

“You can get along with other people only if you can accurately gauge whether their intentions are benign or dangerous. Even a slight misreading can lead to painful misunderstandings in relationships at home and at work. Functioning effectively in a complex work environment or a household filled with rambunctious kids requires the ability to quickly assess how people are feeling and continuously adjusting your behavior accordingly. Faulty alarm systems lead to blowups or shutdowns in response to innocuous comments or facial expressions.”


To me, this sounds like kids aren’t going to get the proper learning environment to read facial cues, which could lead them down the road to unhealthy relationships. If they don’t get to see a proper smile associated with happiness or reward, they may end up not knowing how to read a smile, and could misinterpret it as a sneer or a smirk, which could result in reacting on the defense, leading to a conflict, leading to unhealthy relationships if they aren’t taught how to handle conflict.


Sounds to me like maybe we need to fortify our strengths in handling relationships. I just gave an example of what happens if one misinterprets a well-meaning smile. The resulting unhealthy relationship really stems back to YOUR misinterpretation - which was a reaction to a THOUGHT you had about that person’s intentions behind their “smile”! See how our thoughts and reactions are what we have control over? You can’t control how the person is smiling at you, or whether the smile is of genuine joy or a malicious sneer. You CAN control how you want to respond to it. If you respond in defense to a sneer, a conflict could arise. Do you want conflict? Probably not. So what can you do instead?


Ask yourself if it really matters if it’s a smile or a sneer. Does it? Are this person’s thoughts or feelings about you going to change who you are as a person? Well, only if you allow it to. Ah - there’s that control you have again! You can control your response! So, the action to take would be to not take their behavior personally. And this is what we must teach our kids.


(Pssst - it’s not just kids who need to learn this, but all of us adults, too!)


We need to teach our kids self-worth. We need to teach them that they are valid, important, and nobody has the power to change that unless they allow it.


If you think I’m a moron, and everything I wrote in this article is complete garbage, I can either agree with you or disagree with you. I’m only really a moron and this article really is garbage if I decide you’re telling the truth. And that’s my choice. That’s what I have control of.


But I think I’m onto something, and I think what I’m saying has value and makes sense, and I believe in myself. You’re allowed to think of this what you want. I’m allowed to agree with you or not.


I’m going to teach and encourage my kids to tune into themselves. If someone tries to hurt them, they cannot get hurt unless they allow it. And if they grow up in an environment where they can’t gauge people’s intentions because they didn’t get the opportunity to learn to read facial expressions, they still have the capacity to tap into intuition, and the ability to control their reactions.


So do you.


So what do you choose? To stay in stress and frustration? Or to move forward with positive intention? It’s completely up to you.

 

 

Are you sick of feeling depressed and angry about the world and ready to get some joy back into your life? We all need a little help finding our way out of the darkness - that's not often something we can easily do alone. I'm here to help. I have the tools to help shift your mindset and guide you towards taking back control of your thoughts and reactions, so you can feel more in control of your life. Don't believe me? Email me and ask me how I can help: jamichristinecoaching@gmail.com

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