05/20/2014 03:23 pm ET Updated Jul 20, 2014

In Case People Yank Your Chain


Lately, I've noticed how often the outside world yanks my chain. This is particularly true when people around me are stressed, angry and anxious.

When I was growing up, I was the kid that was always hyper-aware of what the adults were doing. I felt I needed to be. I felt there was emotional safety involved, but that is another story. Besides, this piece is not about them, it is about me.

My tendency to live on high alert transferred to every other area of my life. I could read the emotional temperature of any room I walked into. Or, maybe, I just believed I could. Either way, I based the way I showed up in the world on what I thought were YOUR moods and emotions.

I didn't have my own views, opinions or desires. They were all built as reactions to you. In other words,

I let you yank my chain.

I know you didn't set out to yank my chain. You were just being Beautiful You. I know you didn't ask me to become invisible in the world, but I guess I unconsciously volunteered early on and that was that.

I gave all my power away. And, eventually, I got mad at you for taking it. (What? You didn't want that responsibility?)

Here's what I know now:

Each time you react to others by changing the way you would otherwise behave, you give them control over your life. This is true even if you act in defiance to the other person. In fact, this is probably ESPECIALLY true in that case.

When someone does something or says something you don't like, and you react with stubborn defiance or become oppositional in response because you think you are being independent, you are actually acting out of dependency instead.

Fortunately, we don't have to be free of our unconscious tendency to live in reaction to others. We have another option.

We can PAUSE.

We can slow things down.

We can train ourselves to think before we take action.

In fact, we don't have to respond at all. We can simply say, "Hmm. Well, I have to confess, I'm stumped about what to say next. How about if we take this up later?"

And then, we make it our business to get clear about our feelings about what is going on and act accordingly. We may agree. We may not. Either way, we are living in alignment with our own Truest Truth.

Slow it down.

Take a breath.

When other people trigger your anxiety and anger, remember this:

Hurt People Hurt People. (click to tweet)

If you can just PAUSE before you respond, you are less likely to make mistakes.

Love, Jen

Photo Cred: flickrpranav