It is your life — but only if you choose to make it so.
This quote feels particularly pertinent this week as I try to make choices — especially in work — that have me swimming against the stream.
It’s so very easy to get drawn along in the flow with everyone else and not realise that there’s another way, a choice to be made to do something different. Something that sits more comfortably with who you are and what you want to achieve.
The first step, of course, is noticing. Noticing that something isn’t right, that your needs aren’t being met, that you’re struggling or frustrated, and that something needs to change. And with that comes the realisation that you do indeed have a choice about what happens next. That you can break free from expectation and first make, then walk, your own path.
That metaphor of the path is something I’ve used before and have returned to recently. I used it to help me in the early days of starting my current freelance career. The path is mine to build, brick by brick. It will meander and possibly need to divert to avoid an obstacle in the way but overall it’s headed in the direction I choose.
I have a reminder of this on my house keys. A single yellow Lego brick reminds me I choose where and when the next brick is laid.
It is our expectations that define what will anger us.
I really relate to this quote as I recognise that when I most often get angry it’s because I’ve set unrealistic expectations for myself or others. I’m also very aware that in those cases where I have expectations of someone else often I’ve failed to communicate them clearly or at all. It’s in the gap that anger festers.
I write this in the full knowledge that I have a history with anger and how I respond to it. I have spent a lot of time working on this relationship and I know giving it my attention has paid off. I feel different and see that my behaviour has changed. I knew this quote was coming up as today’s prompt and so I asked my partner whether she had observed the same and I’m pleased to say she verified it.
In fact, I can’t actually recall the last time I was angry had an angry outburst. I changed what I wrote there because it isn’t that I don’t still get angry (although it’s also happening less) but what’s changed is how often I act out as a result of that feeling.
Returning to an earlier thought, I feel a lot of my anger is bound up in non- or mis-communication on my part. Through bottling up my feelings and not letting the people close to me know what I needed from them and then consequently feeling frustrated and angry when my expectations weren’t met. Things changed when I started talking with those close to me about how I am feeling and allowing myself to be vulnerable. They’ve changed even more since I started a more regular dialogue with myself through journaling.
Another thing to explore further is this distinction between the feeling of anger itself and the response to it or behaviours that result from it. It’s natural to feel angry sometimes, what happens next is the important bit.
What’s changed for me is that I’m getting better at noticing when I feel angry. Spotting it before it has a chance to fester and cloud my judgment... and then pausing before I act. That pause gives me space to choose what happens next. Happily, more often than not these days that choice is to let go.