Knowing when to act

If you’re anything like me, it’s easier for you to take action when you are mad or fired up. Maybe you even (intentionally or unintentionally) save up your anger until the ball of feelings is big enough that you lash out. Maybe that’s the only way you’ve ever found to speak up, say the hard things or advocate for yourself.

This probably shows up in all areas of your life – at work, in relationships and with friends. Things seem to be ticking along, and then all of a sudden they’re not. All the things come out and you might not feel so great about how they come out when all is said and done.

I want you to know all of that is OK. I want you to know you’re doing the best you can. I want you to know that this is a completely normal human experience; and that very few of us are taught how to speak with kindness, how to advocate for ourselves in the moment and how to prioritize our feelings so we don’t lash out.

I also want you to know there’s a different way of being.

Something I said recently stuck with me: “It’s easier to take action when you’re fired up. It’s smarter to take action with some time and distance.” (side note: Don’t you love it when the things you say to others are really meant for you?!)

This is the different way of being. This is prioritizing your feelings, speaking with kindness and advocating for yourself so that you don’t have to wait for a big ball of anger to build up and then lash out at someone.

Let’s examine a real time example. You learn that a fellow leader at work is talking about you to some staff level folks. Those staff level folks share this with you and it adds to your big ball of anger. That ball already has some anger toward this other leader and this helps it grow. A day passes and you calm down a bit. Maybe you even develop a plan to calmly talk to this peer about their behavior in a constructive way. A few more days pass and this conversation hasn’t happened yet. (I totally get it – we ALL procrastinate difficult conversations!) Then you decide there’s no point, or you talk yourself out of it, or you decide it’s not worth it. HINT – These are all fear talking and that’s totally OK. We’re looking for awareness right now.

Here’s the thing – that fear is also feeding your ball of anger. It’s allowing the pattern to continue; and you can bet that you’ll lash out at that fellow leader at some point, likely over something small…AND it’s really hard to break this pattern. Be gentle. Go slowly.

Awareness is always the first step. Even if you do nothing differently, you’re making progress when you notice if this pattern feels familiar. Notice where it’s relevant for you and notice that you do have a choice in it. When you’re ready you can take action in a new way.

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