How To Respond

 

We don’t choose what happens to us but we always have a choice about how we respond.  We each have many aspects to our being.  And each of those aspects offers us a way of perceiving and thinking and responding.      

I call our many parts subpersonalities.  We each have an Adult who thinks rationally and can be objective, a Child filled with feelings, a Controller who shields us from vulnerability, a Rebellious Teenager who will not acquiesce, a Nurturing Parent who supports our Child in her growth, a Spiritual Seeker who envisions a greater reality than can be seen by the eyes, a Victim who whines, and many more.  Some of us have a well defined Artist.  Others have well developed Athlete. These subpersonalities are normal and healthy and enrich our lives.

When it comes to responding to circumstances, we want to choose which subpersonality will decide and act responsibly.  Our Child may instantaneously know how she feels and what she wants but our Adult may prefer a steadier, reasoned way of responding. No one subpersonality should dominate exclusively.  In business perhaps we defer to our Business Person with her choice to remain unemotional.  In affairs of the heart we may lead with our feelings.

But choosing who inside of us will respond demands a conscious decision. Are we aware of our Powerless Child and how her frustration and consequent anger leads her to view the world as threatening?  With that Powerless Child’s assumptions about life -- I won’t be heard, I won’t be trusted, I won’t be respected -- of course her response is angry.  She is unable to connect with another adult, to form a working partnership, or to delay reacting. Her response is designed to relieve her tension in the moment. And that’s all.      

In contrast, our Mature Adult knows that we each have needs and differences.  Our Adult respects those differences and treats others the way she wants to be treated.  She knows that when she is hurt the other person probably doesn’t understand what she did or maybe is hurting herself.  She knows that we are all in this to grow and to heal. She is patient with others and with herself.

Our Spiritual Seeker knows that a greater reality encompasses us all. She sees that our interactions seem designed to promote healing for everyone even when they are unpleasant. She doesn’t take anything personally because she knows that it is only by having experiences that we learn and grow. Whatever happens she says, “So be it.” And she moves on and asks what is next. She is open and humble and grateful.

We always have a choice.  From which part of us do we want to respond today? 

 

 

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