Do you ever get stuck feeling like everything is helpless and there is nothing you can do about it?
Sometimes we are restricted in our abilities to change a situation, but we always have a choice.
Let’s give a couple examples to get across what I am wanting to say …
On the way to work, I go a quick way even though I am not supposed to. Y’know, because I’m naughty and so very rebellious. But really, there is a lane I am supposed to only use after 9:30am. Before then, only cyclists and bus drivers can use it. But compared to some of the other crimes in life, I recon I’ll be spared an eternity in Hell for this. Today though, as I was going through, I spotted a bus coming from the opposite direction. The road is narrow, so I pulled over to allow the bus driver to come past. He looked at me and he knew I wasn’t supposed to be there.
He shook his head at me and I audibly laughed after. But now I feel a bit nervous. Up until today, I’d not been ‘told off’ for my naughty behaviour … I’d gotten away with it. But I might see the bus driver again. It made me a little anxious, thinking ‘Shit. I don’t want to keep bumping into this guy. What if he steps it up a gear? Maybe gives me the middle finger … maybe honks his horn at me while waving his arms in outrage … Maybe blocks the road and pulls out a machine gun and f*cking shoots me!!!’ Okay – that last one seems unlikely.
But I have a choice, don’t I? I can either carry on going down the ‘illegal’ route, and risk being shouted at, while feeling like I’m sticking it to the man. Or I can be a good little man-child and add another 10 minutes to my journey.
Let’s think of another example – also from today.
I was sitting on a bench by a river on my lunch break at work. I was there for 5 minutes, enjoying my hummus and falafel sandwich, watching the swans and geese. Then, a couple of middle aged ladies came up to me and asked, “Is it okay if we join you? There aren’t any benches left.”
In my head, I said “No. I would rather be left to read in peace without feeling like I’m eavesdropping on your conversation and feeling like my personal space is being invaded”.
Out loud, I said “Sure. Have a seat”.
After a few moments, I shifted my eyes to the right and saw – quite clearly – a solitary bench, with nobody sitting on it. I thought, ‘I could just go and walk over there and have my own space again … but these ladies will probably think I’m rude and antisocial’.
I debated it for a few minutes and then I realised … I have a choice. Thinking about it isn’t going to change anything. What am I going to do? Do I want to spend the rest of my lunch sat with these gossiping women and not being able to concentrate on my book? Not really, no. So I just walked off and sat on another bench. Maybe they thought I was rude. But does it matter? Of course not. I enjoyed reading my Kindle, without feeling like I was being watched (something us introverts cannot avoid feeling).
So, what I am trying to put across to you is that you cannot always help the things that happen to you. Often, we are just a passenger on this roller-coaster ride and have little influence on what will come about. But we can change our reactions and we have a choice in how we handle situations.
Should you take that medication? Who knows… but it’s up to you if you decide to or not.
Should you go out tonight with your friends? Or should you stay at home and read like you want to?
Should you quit your job? Maybe not if you have nothing else lined up, but nobody is going to stop you.
Next time you feel yourself feeling trapped, realise that you can change your response. Sometimes, in my day-job, I get down and start wondering what I am doing with my life. I want to be making YouTube videos, or writing, or seeing the World. I want to be creating music. But I also want to be able to eat and have a roof over my head. You can’t always have it both ways, but acknowledge that you are choosing what you do with your life.
I hope this helps you. Give it some thought the next time you are feeling like things are out of your control.
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Peace and Love,