We Get What We Give: A Plan to Flourish

Life is truly a classroom.

From the moment of birth until the final act of death, people are in a state of education. The teachers are those with whom we interact. The lessons are uniquely individualized plans that lead us toward the development of character traits. Each one of us independently differentiates the instruction by the choices we make.

When we attended elementary school, we were taught math, science, history, reading, and writing. We were given a set of rules and most kids discovered that following the rules was desirable. Actions have consequences; such as in the following examples.

  • Mary carefully follows instructions and completes her writing assignment on time. The teacher smiles and gives her feedback to help her grow as a writer.
  • Nancy touches every student’s items, and pockets a pretty eraser as she walks from her seat to the restroom. She misses five minutes of recess while the teacher gives her feedback regarding the rule to keep hands and feet to herself.
  • Joe explains the math lesson to Mark during group time, and Mark asks Joe to watch while Mark works on two or three problems and guide him if he makes an error. The teacher conferences with both boys and commends them for the awesome collaboration.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Sir Isaac Newton. 1687. https://www.britannica.com/science/equation-of-motion ©2021 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Probably Sir Newton had no use for his third law of motion to be used as a psychological idiom. However, it works well as a catchy phrase to help us improve our behavior. I use a few tools when I am in a group.

First Tool: Establish a Purpose

Before I go somewhere public, I think about why I am there. Do I want to socialize, or am I working? If I am socializing, what is the type of occasion? If I am working, my goal is to expand my network or to seek ideas. For illustration, if I attend a family holiday gathering, I want to enjoy time with my children and grandchildren. However, if I were attending a seminar about writing fiction, my focus is to collaborate with successful fiction writers and learn from their success. Remember, as you set a purpose, keep it focused on what you want to achieve at the event.

Second Tool: Set Protocols

I usually talk with my husband and state aloud a few worries I have about the engagement, and then we formulate three specific ideas to help me stay on track with my purpose for that activity.

The family gathering sounds like an easy event, but often families feel stress during holidays. I might worry about one adult child discussing an uncomfortable issue for another one. Sometimes, I feel nervous if the kids ask about my health because it is difficult to get old and suffer. Many times, family members are a bit uneasy around a sibling’s or parent’s partner. The distressful thoughts will help you create the three ideas to stay focused. The following three statements are the ones I use for the family situation:

  1. Respond to each person with a pleasant reply aimed at centering the activities for the day on enjoyment.
  2. Spend time with each adult creating an atmosphere of acceptance and love.
  3. If a family member appears cornered, move into that circle and suggest he or she check out the appetizers. (or some other thing)

Lastly, I must remember that I am only one person, and I cannot control others, so DON’T TRY!

A fiction writing seminar is a different event. My worries at this place center upon me saying or doing things that raise feelings of inadequacy. My perception of myself is usually unfavorable. I talk too much, I do not feel comfortable in my clothes, and my voice annoys me when I hear it on video. My three protocols in this atmosphere are a little different:

  1. Dress comfortably in my favorite clothing that I have worn before.
  2. Always plan to listen as long as I plan to talk; and ask engaging questions to get the more advanced people talking.
  3. Lower my voice about three half steps, mostly so that I will feel comfortable.

Lastly, I must remember that I am only one person, and I cannot control others, so DON’T TRY!

Third Tool: Plan a Salvage Strategy

If someone jeopardizes your purpose, don’t fret. Think before you act, and only proceed with actions that continue to agree with your purpose. You can exit from this with dignity and pride, knowing that you satisfied your goals. A person can salvage a holiday, and the majority of people present will gladly follow someone who has any idea to change the temperature. Whatever happened, offer a diversion. Bring everyone to the table, if the problem occurred somewhere else. You can serve a drink or dessert; start a card game, begin a sentimental circle in which you start by briefly sharing your greatest joy. Then proceed to the left or right around the table. Allow people to skip if they are not ready or simply do not wish to join. Gather somewhere else if the problem happened at the table! Have a tenacious family member calm the offenders if they cannot resolve the issue. You do not need to be the “bad guy”.

The seminar will not usually have people in turmoil, but if you become dissatisfied with the progress, reinvent your purpose. Self-talk and learn from your situation. Of course, you do this in your head silently. “I came to collaborate with successful fiction writers. I look good, my voice is pleasing, and I have not taken over the conversation. What is the problem?” If the problem is with the class itself, you cannot solve the issue. It simply isn’t you. For example, maybe all the attendees are beginners, perhaps the teacher wasn’t prepared. Think about what you can do. Could you start a group to help all of you move forward in your writing? Each person might have a strength from which all of you could learn.

Essentially, I learned to make lemonade from lemons. Early in my life, I felt inadequate, incompetent, and undeserving. In seeking to become confident, desirable, and engaging, I learned that I already had the essentials for those qualities. The problem was within my mind. My thinking had to change for me to understand my connection to others.

Positive thoughts generate positive outcomes. Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion relates to human behavior in the same way. 

Published by Eclectra

"Live never to be ashamed if anything you do or say is published around the world - even if what is published is not true." Richard Bach, Illusions, p. 60

%d bloggers like this: