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No Upset

For a number of years now I have had the good fortune and opportunity to be contributing to UniformMarket News and I want to thank my readership for its attention. I am pleasantly surprised when I speak with someone I haven’t known and they comment favorably on the writing. Those who don’t like the articles don’t really speak with me. Writing regularly has given me the opportunity to focus my thinking on some topic about which I wanted or needed to learn more. And I am able to share with you some bit of wisdom gleaned from various sources that I expect will be of some value.

As noted last month, I have been enrolled in an educational experience offered by Landmark Education. The courses are not expensive but offer quite a remarkable experience by teaching methods of reflecting on regular activities and how they may affect emotions and future achievements. Many of the lessons I have encountered have supported my continued personal growth and provided practical methods of dealing with common challenges. What I want to become, have and do, and when I want these possibilities to occur, is mine to determine.

Last week I paid particular attention when I was informed that one of the lessons of the seminar was to learn how never to be upset again. “You’ve got to be joking,” my skeptical inner voice responded. I am in the apparel business and of Italian descent. Being upset, while not healthy or productive, has been a natural part of my being. There’s an old adage that when you point a finger at someone, you’ve got one finger pointing at the person, three pointing back at you and your thumb is up toward the heavens. The essence of this message is that none of the reasons that appear to be instinctively obvious really has anything to do with the upset. And here’s why.

Consider when you get upset that there are really ever only three things at play. First, there is a thwarted intention. You have been stopped in relation to something you are trying to do. No one likes to be stifled especially when there is a constant burden of pressure and your “to do” list is lengthy. How often do you fully accomplish what you’ve reasonably expected and have not been sidetracked by the urgencies or emergencies that shock us daily?

Second, there is an unfulfilled expectation. Someone has let you down on a promise, a delivery did occur as planned, quality is not what you expect or the restaurant service at lunch was less than favorable. And third, there is typically an undelivered communication which occurs when you have something to say but you are not saying it. There are many reasons we can give for being upset and they seem fairly valid, at least initially, to us.

Keep in mind that upsets have all three of these points but usually one of them will be prominent as most significant. I realize we are being exposed to this theory in a controlled, non-hectic atmosphere. You are just reading an article and not under normal business or personal pressures. Think about the concept that upsets are never ‘out there’ with someone else but all of my upsets are located within me. The emotional or intellectual reaction I have to an event is just that – a reaction. It is not the event itself but merely our current and very quick interpretation of what has happened. This is much like a map is only a representation of the route but not the actual road. The two may seem very close but understanding and appreciating the difference can change your life.

The first step in changing is to recognize when you are upset. You don’t have to listen automatically to your reaction. You get to think about what the reality of the situation may be and then allow yourself the golden opportunity to do a current assessment. This review should include asking yourself what is really making you upset and that only you can allow yourself to experience this response.

Think about which of the three points has occurred, and ask yourself do I have a thwarted intention, an unfulfilled expectation or an undelivered communication. Somehow this approach has worked for me. Maybe I get caught up in asking the questions and I ward off the immediate upset reaction. The mind can’t hold two competing thoughts at the same time. But I feel much calmer. And no, everything out there is still the same and the frustrations and opportunities to be upset have not abated.

I traveled this week from Philadelphia to Atlanta and back in less than twenty-four hours. Do you think there were things that probably occurred that would have upset me in the past? For sure! Have you traveled by air recently? But being upset would not have helped improve my situation or allowed me to calmly consider alternatives. So who would I really be hurting but myself?

Like any new lessons there is a period of understanding and digesting the thoughts and this will feel somewhat awkward much as new shoes to be worn in. After a while, the new process becomes familiar and utilitarian. There’s when the benefits begin and the value of the efforts made provide a real and personal return on the investment. Not being upset will give you all the positive reinforcement you need to continue.

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