Giving Over Power – or Gaining Power?

This week I had the pleasure of doing an interview with a wonderful guy for local cable television. He was very enjoyable and the hour during which we recorded our interview went by very quickly. He brought up a subject that I think is worth addressing in this weekly blog.

As a bit of background, I had been interviewed by a local writer for our city paper and we had discussed the situation where someone cuts in front of you in line somewhere – and what the proper response may be. I was explaining a situation where I was with my family and we were “cut” in line by 4 grown women who actually bragged about cutting and upset my 11 year old niece in the process. I used the opportunity to teach my kids about rude behavior and how we always have the option to choose our response.

We chose to have a discussion about the people’s behavior rather than yell at them, “Hey – move to the back of the line!” In some other situation, I may have done so but I wanted my kids to learn how to observe difficult behavior without getting emotionally drawn into it.

Some readers of the article wrote in saying, “It isn’t good to teach our children to be passive. We need to teach them to stand up for themselves.” My interviewer, Brian Kelly, asked me to respond to this question. My immediate response to the question is, “Do we?” Do we need to teach our children that it’s never appropriate to just observe someone else behaving badly without jumping in and feeling the need to correct the bad behavior?

Many of us do not realize that on a day-to-day basis, by getting drawn into someone else’s bad behavior, and giving over our own emotional energy to that person or situation, we actually LOSE our power and control. We have a reduced ability to choose our reaction and fewer options available to us when we immediately feel compelled to jump in and correct another person’s behavior.

Stepping outside of a situation and refusing to be drawn in actually gives us more power, more control and more choice in our lives. We don’t “fix” other people by showing them how rude they are – we merely deplete our own energy by focusing it and releasing it to someone who doesn’t even deserve it! Consider what is happening in the exchange with someone you think of as “rude.” You react – you address or lecture or yell – they dig in their heels and try to make you the bad guy – you get indignant and yell more – they yell back or make some sarcastic comment and then what?

This week find an opportunity to “turn the other cheek.” Not to be stepped on, or to avoid conflict but to choose not to engage with someone who doesn’t deserve your engagement. Keep your power and your self-control.