An airplane is flying by in the near distance. How does that make you feel? What’s YOUR reaction?
- ANGER: A farmer out in his field sees the plane and again thinks about the new runway at the end of the field, with a flight path right over his farmhouse. He’s received no response to his complaint letters. Seeing the plane, he’s angry.
- EXCITEMENT: A young man is anticipating his upcoming holiday flight. Seeing the plane, he’s excited.
- WORRY: A mother has just put her son on a plane to visit his dad for the week. She sees the plane and wonders, will her daughter having a safe trip, how will the visit go, will her daughter will be lonely for her. Seeing the plane, she’s worried.
- PRIDE: An airplane mechanic looks up and recognizes the plane he worked on last week. He enjoys his work. Seeing the plane, he’s proud of what he does.
- ANXIETY: A flight attendant was late leaving for work, and now traffic sucks. Seeing this plane, she’s anxious.
SADNESS: A woman’s aunt and uncle died in a plane crash last year. She is still overwhelmed with memories. Seeing the plane, she’s sad.
JOY: A young girl wants to be a pilot when she grows up. She sees the plane and happily remembers her dreams and goals. Seeing the plane, she’s joyful.
- GRUMPY: A baggage handler is on vacation. He hates having to go to work every day. The plane reminds him that he only has two days left of holidays. Seeing the plane, he’s grumpy.
- FEAR: A man with fear-of-flying issues is on his way to an unavoidable business flight. Seeing the plane, he feels his heart begin to pound. He’s afraid.
- RESENTMENT: A pilot was just laid off due to airline cutbacks. He’s mad at the company, the economy, and everybody who chooses to stay at home instead of flying. It’s all their fault. Seeing the plane, he’s resentful.
- INTEREST: A 3-year-old looks up. She recognizes an airplane in the sky. She says, “Lookit! Plane!” She has no emotion-based reactions. Seeing the plane, she simply sees it flying in the sky.
Whatever flies past us, it is what it is. It’s our REACTIONS that count. Our reactions form our experience of everything. (And our experience often forms our reactions.) We can choose what our reactions are and thus we can shape our experience.
We can become conscious of this process. We can learn to recognize our reactions, both positive and negative. We can learn to separate an experience from pre-programmed reactions. We can choose to experience an event as perhaps a child does… for what it is, or at least for what it would be if we weren’t painting it the color of our negative reactions.
Try saying this: “I choose to start recognizing my negative reactions, then exploring them, then figuring out their source, then working to change them, to replace them with positive reactions.” Through this new awareness, we transform our negative reactions to positive. Gradually, this will remove the power that any negative reactions have over us.
What follows is a new experience of life as interesting, enjoyable, peaceful, and often exciting.