Beliefnet
Because This Is Your Life

It was the first summer class I ever had at college.

And even though the summers were hot in South Florida this was a cool class…especially the teacher.

What was so cool…and unique about it?

Including myself there were only two guys in this class out of approximately 30 people.

Yet it didn’t matter…

Because this teacher was rather entertaining…when he showed up.

You see…

This was a child psychology class…taught by a therapist.

His name was Gene. And he usually had his assistant with him…we’ll call her Donna.

What was cool about this class was that there were no tests…no work to do. All you had to do was show up (he took attendance) and you got an “A.”

However…

Instead of teaching like a regular college professor would, Gene would tell us real life stories of his many clients.

And he would usually provide incredible words of wisdom as it related to human behavior.

One of those “pearls of wisdom” Gene shared one day was the following:

“You can’t change someone…you can only change your reaction to them.”

I still remember writing this down on a piece of paper…along with all the other “jewels of life” he would share.

And for some reason whenever I think about this, what comes to mind is the thought of what other people think about you…

Because it is during these moments when you may have the tendency to want and change someone who says, thinks, or does something you don’t like.

This also brings up the question…

How much do you care what other people think about you?

1. Careless whispers- The class with Gene met at 8am and ran until 9am Monday through Friday.for six weeks straight. Now even though I rarely took classes this early…much less in the summer time…something told me to do so.

Despite the 8am class time, I made every class.

Ironically Gene did not.

And even when he did, he would frequently show up on 3 hours or less sleep…sometimes on no sleep…a few times not at all (although his assistant Donna would in his place)

Back then…at first I was thinking…”here’s a college instructor that’s not setting a very good example.”

However…

I caught myself and realized several life lessons.

One, Gene had a separate practice and when his patients needed him he was there for them. Yes, teaching a college class was important.

Yet…

When someone’s life was hanging in the balance and he needed to help them…well guess what came first.

When I had this revelation the second life lesson surfaced…

Who is anybody to judge someone else without knowing all of the details. Now the other part of this has to do with what people say and think about you.

I’m certain Gene knew what students were thinking and whispering about him.

Did he care?

The answer was obviously yes because he knew he was not only helping his patients who needed him…but he was also sharing with us…his students…real life situations that we could use in our own lives.

And to me that was worth more than an “easy A” for just showing up.

Because it actually inspired me at the time to pursue psychology as a major…which led me to getting my college degree in communication…and ultimately to what I do today as a human potential specialist.

This all led to arguably the most important “jewel” of life…

Anything anybody says (and thinks) about you…first of all…is true in some form.

And second…

The only way someone could think and say something about you is if they’ve done it themselves…or someone else saw them as doing it…otherwise they wouldn’t be saying and thinking it at all.

Take a look in your own life and see for yourself.

Therefore…

The next time you’re in a situation that you know someone is thinking about you in a certain way…or even if they come right out and say it…when you realize what I just mentioned a minute ago you won’t react in a defensive way…that may have ordinarily left you feeling “hurt” or “angry.”

This leads to a new 21st Century term I know you hear often…and perhaps even use as well.

And it’s one that will stop you flat unless you know how to react…or not react to it.

2. Lovers or haters- Just like with many things in life people will have a tendency to give a new name to an “old thing.” And the same is true with this  21st Century term…

“Hater.”

You’ve heard it…and quite frequently…right?

Have you ever wondered where it came from…or why people even say it?

It’s simple…

Because it’s a new term made up to imply one thing.

You see…

People will call someone else a “hater” when that other person…the so called “hater” challenges, criticizes, or doesn’t agree with them.

In other words…

A person will refer to someone else as a “hater” because they seek the fantasy of having more support than challenge, more praise than criticism, more people liking than disliking them…you get the idea.

And what does this come back to?

Worrying about what other people say and think about you.

Because why else would someone call someone else a “hater”…right?

Now when you look at a “lover”…you have a person who embraces both sides of life equally…and knows that the supports and challenges, the praise and criticism, the people agreeing and disagreeing with them benefits their lives.

Therefore…

The “lover” exists…the “hater” doesn’t.

And…

In the process you wouldn’t care what others say or think about you…because like I said earlier it’s true in some way anyway.

Also remember…

And I’ve said this many times…

The more people you want liking you…expect the same number to dislike you.

The same goes with people support and challenging, praising and criticizing, agreeing and disagreeing with you.

And in the process…

You’ll “dance” your way through life without letting others get the best of you.

Plus…

Something else takes place…and it goes back to what I started mentioning earlier.

3. In front of your back- In addition to Gene’s quote I shared with you earlier…another comes to mind…and the two work together side by side:

“Just because I don’t say it, don’t mean I ain’t thinking it.”

Think about it…

How many times have you been in a situation when someone said you look “nice” and you knew they didn’t mean it.

And this of course could have been any situation when someone told you one thing but meant something else.

How did you feel?

Were you glad they told you what you wanted to hear…

Or…

Would you have preferred that they came straight out and just told you how they really felt?

Now what about when you were on the other end of it…

When you were the one “saving face” by telling someone one thing because you didn’t want to hurt their feelings.

These are all “fine line”…”sensitive” type of situations where there are benefits and drawbacks to either way you handle them.

So what’s the best thing to do?

Obviously…

It’s going to depend on the person, the relationship you have with them, and the specifics of the situation.

However…

What happens when you’re on the receiving end of it?

Would you prefer someone to just come “right out with it” or be “nice” because they don’t want to hurt your feelings?

And this goes back to the quote Gene shared with our class that one morning:

“You can’t change someone, you can only change your reaction to them” …

Because when you know that someone is thinking…or will say…something about you that you don’t like…and you want to change it…then the way you react to them has a high probability of doing so.

And if it doesn’t…

Then you’ve been able to appreciate the equal amount of benefits and drawbacks to it.

The result…

One, you learn how to appreciate and love yourself.

Two, you appreciate how other people and the situations you come across act as feedback to get you on purpose with your life…while being able to maintain it.

And three…

To realize how valuable of a person you are and how important you are to the people around you…and the world.

So do yourself a favor…

Say ‘thank you” for all you do…and even don’t do.

Because it allows you to be your true magnificent self while making a positive difference in the world

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