I recently witnessed someone lose it. And I mean, really lose it. Frustrated, tired, and angry. It all culminated in one big explosion. It wasn’t pretty and the ramifications of it are still unfolding. Fortunately, I wasn’t in the line of fire.Have you ever seen or been part of something like that happening?
Has circumstance ever gotten the best of you or someone you know?
We’ve all been upset at one time or another, letting our emotions get the better of us, reacting and acting in anger and frustration. (Or worse, not reacting at all, expressing absolute apathy and indifference.) It happens. Whether it’s at work or at home, life can bring many stresses for any number of reasons and sometimes the stress proves to be too much. Overload.
Psychologist Connie Lillas uses a driving analogy to describe the three most common ways people respond when they’re overwhelmed by stress:
- Foot on the gas – An angry or agitated stress response. You’re heated, keyed up, overly emotional, and unable to sit still.
- Foot on the brake – A withdrawn or depressed stress response. You shut down, space out, and show very little energy or emotion.
- Foot on both – A tense and frozen stress response. You “freeze” under pressure and can’t do anything. You look paralyzed, but under the surface you’re extremely agitated.
I see it often as I observe the undercurrents of relationships. As an outsider, I try look at situations with a compassionate and empathetic eye. I benefit from being removed. I see patterns and how they affect co-workers, teams, friends, and family. I also pay close attention to when I see someone exhibit self-awareness and examine their own role in what they bring to the table. I watch how someone responds with grace when faced with adversity.
What differentiates the two?
As I was reflecting on this question, it occurred to me that the recurring theme is accountability. A major breakdown in any dynamic is failing to understand that nothing is one-sided, not recognizing that we are all complicit in any dynamic that is created in a situation. Casting blame is an easy way for the “blamer” to not stake a claim for the role they play, an easy way to put it all on the “blamee,” whomever or whatever the “blamee” is.
It was out of my control.
The competition ate my lunch.
Customers just don’t understand.
It’s not my fault.
It’s not me. It’s my team.
Some of you might be thinking that I’m trying to shift the onus of a situation to the accuser. Rest assured, nothing could be further from reality. What I’m suggesting is that we try to gain insight and find the truth, which exists somewhere between both sides of the story. What I’m asking is that we become accountable.
1. (of a person, organization, or institution) Required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible.
2. Explicable; understandable.
So here is some food for thought as you wander through your day…
- Be aware that you are complicit. You have a role to play.
- Try to understand what is in your control; recognize what you can influence; question what is out of your control.
- If you let a wound fester, it will always end up coming back to haunt you. Deal with it.
- Like a tornado, a storm tends to pick up bystanders. Watch for storms and temper them as soon as possible.
- Unlike a tornado, devastation doesn’t have to be a probable outcome.
- Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Your story is only one side of the truth.
- Take action. Do what’s right. Do it with compassion.
Looking back on the vast array of relationships and circumstances in my life, I know that I have been guilty of having not always practiced what I preach. I’m complicit. For that recognition, I’m grateful. Next steps…what do I do about it?