If I asked you, would you admit that you have character flaws that need improving? If I asked you, would you be able to tell me with all honesty, those parts of you that could benefit from some improvement?
When life is even keeled and the waters are calm, it is easy to see ourselves as good people who are accommodating and willing to bend for other people and their needs. It is easy to take one for the team, or give, when you are feeling your best or have more than enough to share. The behavior you exhibit when everything is lined up precisely doesn’t tell you much about yourself other than how you operate in ideal circumstances.
Evaluating how we operate when circumstances are at their worst, gives us a wonderful opportunity to see our character flaws and address them. Being pressed down by unfavorable situations shows us part of our nature that is often times unflattering, but it is a blessing if you embrace it.
If someone gossips about you, does something mean or nasty to your family, what do you do about it? If you are embarrassed by someone, belittled or shamed, what recourse do you take? If the clerk at the store is rude, if the economy is not ideal for your budget, if sickness wreaks havoc in your life, how do you manage the crisis? Are your go-to emotions, anger, depression, sarcasm and thoughts of revenge? How do you manage jealousy? If someone gets promoted, a new car, takes a vacation or otherwise benefits while you don’t, how do you react? Do you gossip about the merits they lack with other people? Do you resent them in their good fortune and pout privately because you don’t have anything to show for yourself?
Having peace in our lives is an ultimate goal. Peaceful people have an ability to weather storms with ease, like graceful trees in the wind, bending but not breaking. One of the best gifts you can give yourself is realizing what character traits steal your peace. It is through the challenging times that we can see the traits that keep us from peace. How we react to less-than-ideal situations. If money is tight, do you worry? If your spouse doesn’t respond to your text, do you become upset and controlling? If people gossip, do you jump in and join? If your kids are out of control, do you rage and scream at them?
The next time you are steeping in hot water, take a moment to realize how you are feeling. Acknowledge the fact that you are reacting in a negative, passive aggressive or non-peaceful way. Try to pinpoint the exact emotion you are feeling. Analyze it. Give it a name. When you are calm, look at what triggered that response in you and find ways to overcome it. You can change anything about yourself that doesn’t suit you, all you need to do is know what makes you think the way you do and why. Once you have the power of knowledge, you have the ultimate power to make change.
Wrestling with the negative emotions brought up by stressful events can be rewarding. Though it is normal to feel negative things, it isn’t a requirement. You don’t have to react to the same old issues the same old way. Once you know a better way to manage disappointment, stress, anxiety, shame, guilt, anger, jealousy, you can have peace. As you build your peace, you will see your positive life experiences expand.