the consequences of those actions.”
- Stephen Covey
Sometimes, the most stupid actions are the best actions to take.
I always feel good whenever I report to my home office. I enter the room, take a quick glance at my table, chair and laptop and my mind just goes, “yeah, time to make some money!”
Whenever this happens, the day goes great.
But this day was different… so different.
I had an important deadline to meet for a particular project I was working on for a client. So, as usual, the first place I went to was my laptop.
After booting to the Windows desktop for a few seconds, the blue screen of death showed…
My laptop had crashed… Arrgh!!
My next option was to get another computer (my mum’s), plug in my USB flash drive where I had backed up the project and begin work for the day.
Lo and behold, after plugging in my flash, the craziest thing happened…
My flash drive had gone bad…
I was going crazy!
My last resort was to access the internet for the backup files via my android phone. But as I looked at my phone, I read the three most horrible words…
“Emergency Calls Only!”
My internet connection was absent…
It seemed bad luck and the devil had a score to settle with me that day.
Being that I was blessed with anger, the first thing that came to mind was to smash my phone on my laptop screen, break open my flash drive and chew on the chip.
I was mad! But I mean, that was the most sensible thing an angry man could do at that time, right? I needed to cool off my temper, so I had to do something really crazy and destructive.
But what I did afterwards really surprised me…
I didn’t do anything but sit on my chair and stare into space for what seemed like hours.
My mind was completely blank and it seemed as if I was deaf to the world. This singular action showed me something very important that I’ll never forget…
The obvious action isn’t always the best action
It’s very easy to give negative reactions to a negative occurrence. It seems sensible to pay evil with evil- if something bad is done to you, then do something worse back. That way, you’ll feel good with yourself.
But in the actual sense, you’ll feel really bad about your action.
Let me ask you this question: “when something bad happens to you and you feel extremely angry about it, what do you do?”
Let’s see some options.
1. You’ll break the things around you. Things like your TV, mirrors, glass wares, and even your chairs.
2. You’ll transfer that anger to other people. You’ll suddenly stop talking to people.
3. You’ll head to the nearest bar and treat yourself to 10 bottles of bear.
4. You’ll head to the street, pick a harlot and have sex with him or her like a raving lion.
5. You’ll cut yourself till the pain overwhelms you.
And the list goes on…
I bet you do one of them. Number 1 is the most obvious thing to do, right?
For those who love the bottle, they’ll combine numbers 3 and 4 into one action. For drug addicts or extremely negative people, number 5 is the best thing to do. For those who don’t talk much (people like me), number 2 is the alternative.
But the thing is that where will all the actions above lead you? Most times, the end result is that you’ll destroy yourself…slowly. That is one terrible consequence of taking any of the actions above.
But here’s what staring into space taught me;
1. Take No Action and Face No Consequences
That’s so true. For example, when you stand on a spot, with your hands at your back and your head face forward, are you moving? I don’t think so (except you’re on a skateboard :-)).
But when you take a step forward, you could either step on the paw of your dog (mistakenly) or sprain your already throbbing ankle. These are the consequences of taking that one action which is stepping forward.
An action, no matter how small or insignificant always produces a reaction- a consequence- that can either make you worse or better.
If I had smashed my phone into my laptop, that would have cost me another $600 to replace. That’s money I didn’t plan for.
If I had chewed my flash drive, I’d have lost some valuable information on it. That’s information that can’t be replaced… ever!
Out of the consequences above, I don’t think I would prefer anyone.
Take action: Think before you act! Sometimes doing nothing gives you less to worry about.
2. Negative Situations Don’t Always Have To Give Negative Reactions
When a waiter pours chicken soup on your new and expensive dinner outfit, you could either tell the waiter, “Are you crazy? What were you thinking? Do you know how expensive this is?” or you could say, “oh, never mind…I’ll have to go back home because this dress is ruined.”
You see, there’s always an option to react positively, even to a negative occurrence. But being the humans that we are, we always see the negative side first and do the negative actions first. In fact, we feel that doing the negative action is the sensible thing to do.
Whenever we are faced with negative situations, it is crucially important for you to know exactly what you are thinking at the time, before you take any action. When you know the exact thoughts in your head, you’ll be able to weigh your actions with your consequences. It’s not an easy task, but if you’ve been to anger management classes, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Take action: The next time something crazily negative happens to you, be slow to react. The first thing that should come to your mind is the value of the thing or person you’re about to destroy. The moment you recognize the value of your victim, you’ll most likely take note of what you’re about to do. After all, you wouldn’t want to destroy something or someone extremely valuable to you, would you?
3. Your Emotions Don’t Control Your Actions
At the time of the incident, I was soaked ion anger. And it’s only normal for that anger to control me into doing the unimaginable. But it didn’t!
Your emotions only influence your actions; they don’t force you to take any particular action. In fact, they can’t because your head is still in control. The reason why we think our emotions control us is because emotional influence is one of the strongest modes of influence. If it wasn’t, then politicians and heart breakers won’t capitalize on it.
Just because you’re sad doesn’t mean you should sulk. Just because you’re angry doesn’t mean you should destroy yourself. Just because you feel cheated doesn’t mean you should get back at the cheater.
Take action: It’s not easy recognizing your emotions especially when we’re about to take a negative action. But making the effort to recognize it would largely determine what you would do next. By saying, “I am angry” or “I am sad” or “I feel used” out loud, you’ll immediately be able to recognize the fact that you’re angry and subconsciously, you’ll judge and control whatever action you’re about to take.
During the time I stared into space, at first, my thoughts kept coming like missiles. Then, nothing ran through my mind- I was blank. After a few minutes of staying this way, I simply left the room and postponed my work. Seriously I wasn’t ready to destroy my precious laptop.
When you allow negative emotions to rule your mind and actions, you can be sure that the consequence would not be a rosy one. You would have done the damage before realizing what you just did. But by then, it would have been too late!
Imagine if every time a bad situation raised its ugly head, you had the ability to recognize your emotions and avoid the negative reactions. Your world and your reality would definitely be a better place. You’ll feel so good with yourself. And the good thing is that other people, especially those who may have offended you would take notice. In fact, they’d want to learn from you. Wouldn’t you like that?
How did you feel after reacting negatively to a bad occurrence? Did you feel good with yourself or did you regret your action? I can’t wait to hear your stories!
Image credit: Flickr.com