Stephen Covey continues his comments on Stimulus – Response. “Reactive people are also affected by their social environment, by the ‘social weather.’ When people treat them well, they feel well; when people don’t, they become defensive or protective [or depressed]. Reactive people build their emotional lives around the behavior of others, empowering the weaknesses of other people to control them.
The ability to subordinate an impulse [stimulus] to a value is the essence
of the proactive person. Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values – carefully thought about, selected and internalized values. [An example of such a value would be, “I am a child of God, and He loves me and values me and wants what is best for me. Whatever happens to me, He is right there with me, and so I won’t be sunk by situations, circumstances, or my own physical, mental, or emotional condition. I accept them all as the life given to me on this earth.”]
“I admit this is very hard to accept emotionally, especially if we have had years and years of explaining our misery in the name of circumstance or someone else’s behavior. But until a person can say deeply and honest, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,’ that person canon say, ‘I choose otherwise.’
[We create our own reality.] “It is not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.”
There is a story of a woman who worked as a nurse and had a supervisor who was the most ungrateful man you could possibly imagine. Nothing she did was good enough for him. He found fault in most everything she did. She attended a Covey conference and told him that to say she had chosen her own emotional life of being miserable – there was no way she could buy into that. Struggling with the concept, she went inside herself and asked, “Do I have the power to choose my response.” When she realized she had that power and that she had formerly chosen to be miserable, she stood up at the conference and said, “I am free! I am let out of prison! No longer am I going to be controlled by the treatment of some person.” How about you, is there some circumstance, situation, person, or condition you are reacting to? You have a choice as to how to respond – to make yourself miserable or to accept life as it is given to you and do the best with what you have.