Controlling your reaction to things you cannot control

Napoleon Hill’s a Year of Growing Rich: 52 Steps to Achieving Life’s Rewards

I post about reading this book every once in a while, because I read one chapter at a time and I’m taking my time. It’s a very inspiring book! Even though it is focused on getting rich by making more money, the tips the author gives for getting rich are really tips that make our lives better anyway. And that is where my journey is taking me after surviving abuse–a better life where I am assertive and taking care of myself better than I have in the past!

The chapter I read today was “Your Source of Power,” and at the end was a quote that really got me thinking. I’ve read it before, but I usually find it a bit frustrating. Hill says:

Your state of mind is something you can control completely….

No one can control the actions of others or the many circumstances of life that tend to make one angry, but you can control your reactions to these actions and circumstances.

This is not a new idea, but sometimes I just read things in a new light. This idea is also the main point of another book I read called People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys. That book is filled with assertive ways to deal with maddening people! It really is the truth that we can control our reactions, but I’ve always found the idea so frustrating because when you are dealing with a crazy person–especially an abuser–you begin to feel helpless after a while. It’s hard to believe you have any control over anything when there is a strong bully ruling over your life! The authors can say we control our own minds, but if you are being criticized and attacked and gaslighted daily, it really gets hard to stay strong. So I guess what I’m thinking is, sometimes it is harder than usual to control your reaction to a situation and stay strong, and that’s why every time I’ve seen that quote, I have had trouble fully accepting it. It was always so hard to see a way out of the abuse.

Still, it gets me thinking…when my ex was screaming and calling me names all the time, and I was huddled and crying in fear, could I have changed my reaction by simply not letting his rages scare me? I don’t know, because he was so unpredictable. I did change the problem by ending the marriage very quickly, so I guess that was the only way I could control my reaction to a volatile person.

Since I used to be a co-dependent, I’ve always had a problem with working harder and harder to fix the problems with abusive people, when I should have been strong, and kicked them right out the door after it became clear they weren’t going to change! When I was trying to fix disordered people, I was giving up my own power and letting them run all over my life while I waited for them to be respectful. (As if that would ever happen!) I can’t believe it took me so long to gain the insight and boundaries to stop letting unrepentant abusers control me when I could have said “no!” so much sooner. Lesson learned….

As I’ve been healing, I’ve really taken heart in this idea that I can control my reactions instead of trying to control people’s bad behavior. It is so much easier and less stressful, that’s for sure! It makes me feel like I have more personal power, and it gives me so much excitement for the future.

The other day, someone did something really crappy to me–stole my work off of my website, cropped out my website address, re-posted it as her own, said it was hers, and told people they too could share it. I was not happy that this person was so disrespectful with my work, nor the fact that technically, that is a crime. When I confronted the person, she refused to remove my stolen work, and she blocked me. That’s the kind of situation where someone else is taking control of your life, and you feel like you can’t stop them! It was incredibly rude and entitled of that person to think it was okay to do that! And it was that situation that made me see that old quote up there in a new light. I am no longer allowing people to abuse me. That person violated me, and I cannot control her behavior, nor can I make her an honest, ethical person. She was dishonest and that probably isn’t going to change. People are what they are until they decide to change… and judging by her refusal to remove my copyrighted work or even talk about it, she wasn’t planning on changing any time soon!

So…if I can’t prevent someone from violating me, I can control whether or not I let them continue, and whether or not I let it ruin my day. There are always going to be jerks in the world. All I can do is use my legal rights, (which I did.) I am done engaging with that person, because I don’t want to waste my time on abusive people anymore. I cannot keep those types of people from walking through my life, but I can keep them from staying. And that’s really what that quote is about.

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