When we were kids, my brother and I would get into fights, and before long, one of us would end up crying (not me). By the time our parents got to scene to intervene, we would have our lines prepped and rehearsed. At age 6, my brother’s reasoning would be, “She started it!” And with the immaturity of a 10 year old, I would shoot back, “He made me do it.”
Sometimes people do unkind, hurtful and vindictive things. Sometimes their cruel words hurt us to the core. Sometimes we are so angry, we can feel our blood boiling inside our veins. In those moments, it’s important that we keep the bigger picture in mind (perspective) and respond in a way we can be proud of, long after the moment has passed.
Sometimes anger is perfectly reasonable but how we treat others in those moments of anger has more to do with us than them. We cannot get to the root of our pain or anger until we admit that it was us, not them, who allowed our emotions to get out of hand. Growth, healing and maturity lie on the other side of “You made me do it.”
The only person responsible for our decision-making is us. Our choice to hurt someone else with our words solely lies with us. The decision to lift up a hand to someone else has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with us. Our poor reaction to situations is not someone else’s fault. These things sometimes point to areas of sensitivity and immaturity in us. Ultimately, we are responsible for our actions no matter what the other person has said or done.
TD Jakes once pointed out, “Remember, anger always kills its landlord.” What a loaded statement. Every time we choose to react in anger, we are hurting ourselves. Taking responsibility for our anger helps us to take control of it and that in turn sets us free.
Instead of blaming others, let’s be courageous enough to confront (and defeat) our demons. In a way, I believe, such moments are a gift to us, for true leadership to be on display. Now more than ever, we need leaders who courageous enough to own their mistakes and humble enough to take responsibility for their actions— and we can decide to be those leaders.
We are not victims of actions we choose.
Here’s to knowing, being and doing better.
PS: My brother and I remain the closest of friends.
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