Everything that we do contributes to the change we experience as time. Whether we are conscious of our impact or not is another question. Do you make your daily decisions consciously?
Some, perhaps most, of our daily impacts are subtle but continuous. Such that in any given snapshot of experience they may appear meaningless, yet over long periods these individual subtle impacts combine into something much more substantial.
They stem from conscious and unconscious decisions that we make daily: where we sit on the bus, how we talk to the store clerk or barista, how we look at someone in the street, what time we go to bed, what we click on through social media. Think of all the little decisions that we make each day.
Each of these choices, while seemingly small, change the course of our experience and that of those around us. We end up in different places at different times, with different mind sets and ideas, and different emotional states and predispositions.
Our impact is compounded by the way others respond to our choices. For instance, if we smile and show kindness to someone, they are more likely to pay it forward and show kindness to someone else. The same applies for seemingly negative interactions. The way we interact with people creates ripples throughout the community.
When I make choices unconsciously, I tend to be reactive. Automatically responding and making decisions based on my emotional state at the time. Think of it as an emotional autopilot system: the emotion determines the reaction, the feedback to the reaction determines the emotion. This feedback loop can spiral out of control sometimes, especially during heated personal arguments. Each individual is hunkered in their own emotional bunker – unable to see past their perspective, the reactions to each other become increasingly fiery and hurtful. This only serves to deepen the rift between them and both people get hurt.
Now imagine that a little more consciousness was brought into the scenario. Instead of immediately reacting based on emotion, there is a pause and an attempt to understand where the other person is coming from. With a little empathy, it is possible to see that the hostility could be stemming from a feeling of being hurt, disrespected, or attacked. From that empathetic standpoint, action is taken to understand the core issue (the root of those feelings) and resolve the situation that led to that. The conscious pause allows us to see past the face of the emotional reaction in order to uncover its roots.
Most of our interactions each day are not as intense as a personal argument, though we’ve all seen someone project their bad mood onto other people and situations. When we encounter someone that is spreading their bad mood or reacting based on anger, first we should realize that their emotional state most likely has nothing to do with us personally. It is a buildup of unexpressed emotion, any perceived slight or wrongdoing can set them off.
If we don’t take it personally, and choose not to react to the people we encounter each day, we can instead choose to act out of loving kindness. Perhaps that simple gesture can brighten that person’s day? All it takes is a little compassion sometimes. If it turns that person’s mood around, at the very least they will be less likely to lash out at other people through out the day.
The impacts I am talking about are subtle to be sure, but they are not to be underestimated. Simple acts of kindness, without expectation. Sometimes that is all we need.
We all slip into emotional autopilot from time to time, observe when that tends to be for you. Is it when certain subjects are brought up in conversation? Is it when you see certain people? Or perhaps when something reminds you of a past experience?
Once we realize what tends to trigger our emotional autopilot, we can watch for those scenarios as they arise and work on staying present instead of spiraling into reactivity. When you feel yourself slipping into that state, count 10 exhales and focus on your physical senses. This will help ground you.
Ask yourself: Can I make a positive impact by choosing to show more love and kindness through my thoughts, words, and actions today?
About MeI’m Ben! I’m a travel-obsessed abstract thinker here to help you extract the hidden lessons behind your day-to-day experience.
Integrity Health is a franchise company residing in New Hampshire. We specialize in health coaching centers combining fitness with weight loss to optimize and promote optimal health. We are also the national purveyors of the EZCOACH Fitness Prescription System licensed by fitness professionals.