07/28/2014 10:33 am ET Updated Sep 27, 2014

Yes, Actually, You Are in Control

Gary Houlder via Getty Images

Here I am staring at an email in my inbox. A response to my request, one I thought more a formality than a requirement. I sat shocked, reading that my request, albeit not rudely, was denied. My temper started to rise. Emotions roiled. "What? How dare they do this to me! They just don't understand!" Then, I stopped. The reality hit me, full force, that I was reacting to the situation. Not observing my reaction (advice I had given no less than four people within the last two days) but, instead, allowing my reaction to control me.

You can not control the situation but you can control your reaction to the situation. The words are much easier said than practiced , but can transform your life when you dedicate yourself to them. Learning to separate ourselves from what happens to us and beginning to see how we respond to it is the best gift you can give yourself.

We are not in control of what happens. Sure, we can make decisions, but regardless of what decisions we make, there will always be outside influences that affect situations. Sometimes, there are accidents, regardless of the decisions we make, despite the most rigorous contingency plans, some things can never be foreseen. We are, however, in control of many things; our reactions, thoughts, words, and feelings. You are the ruler of your self. You are the Queen (or King) of your reaction to any situation, at any time, in any place.

We can't control other people and we can't control our environment (we can create it, just not completely control it). The one thing over which we can exert, and maintain control of, is our self and the way we respond to any, and every, situation. Looking at what happened when I received that email, my immediate response was to get upset. In the past, I probably would have hit reply and sent an emotional, and possibly quite detrimental, response. It's taken practice, but I was now able to stop, breathe and take a minute to observe my reaction and emotions. I remembered the advice I had just given to others when they told me about tough situations that had happened to them. I observed: where will my anger lead me and is it to a positive place? Probably not. Will anger affect positive change? I'm thinking, No. If I didn't like the answer, are there others who can, and will be happy to, help me? Of course! This was just one of many to whom I sent this request and one respondent denied my request. Was it realistic to expect everyone to want to participate? Can you see? I was already looking at my reaction in a rational manner because I was focused on my response, which is emotional, but my examination was neutral and unbiased.

The result? I am back to my calm, happy self. I am ready to send out my next email maintaining the same confidence. I sustained a relationship. Most importantly, I had another reinforcing moment of practicing examining my reaction to situations instead of getting wrapped up in the emotion of the situation.

It's good to be the King.