What happens to us isn’t the problem; how we react is

Tuesday May 15 2018

Ms Terry  Ramadhani is a senior manager in the

Ms Terry  Ramadhani is a senior manager in the Human Resources Department, East Africa Aga Khan University 

By Terry Ramadhani

Whilst on my mini-hiatus, I took time to focus on various initiatives that I ordinarily do not have enough hours in the day to accomplish. I also took time to catch up with my fun activities such as digital media samplings, to hours on end reading various feeds, some infuriating and others cracking my ribs, all in good fun. Yes, I am admitting with no coercion, that from time to time I post items on my social media platforms, and it on occasion it could be liberally. It so happened that some particular weekend for reasons that I shall keep to myself, I shared numerous items with tag lines, emojis or emoticons and all the rest of the elaborate detail that comes with digital engagements of our day. Of course I was pleased and excited at the comments that some of my posts elicited, but no response caught my attention as a comment made by one of my close friends during a totally unplanned meet up a few days ago.

So, we bumped into each other at a social engagement and after the pleasantries and catch up banter we sat down to delightful mugs of coffee, hot chocolate and such…wink wink, anyway, so my friend then animatedly commented, “I thought you had moved to another town a few weeks ago!” Of course this statement was a bit of a shocker for me as it was incorrect and really coming out of the blue. I enquired to know how he had reached that conclusion, and alas to my surprise he responded that he had formed that view some weeks back from the avalanche of images I had shared on social media one afternoon! My eyes almost popped out!

Now, I have to make a distinct clarification here and say that all the images that I shared were of myself and none of them had a tag line that went anything like ‘excited at the next phase’ or ‘heart pumping madly about the new city’ or ‘so long my love’ you get the drift…

How my friend considered this to have been my ‘situation’ at the time of my postings was quite intriguing and mind-boggling.

But, it did get me thinking that we have so much power over how we make meaning of the events that we interact with each minute of each day, and that power is so great that it diminishes the importance of what the event actually is. It may very well be that events have happened to you that have not been pleasant at all and most likely one bad one after another, as is often the case when one is on a rough patch, but how you navigate those deeply depressing and difficult moments will be heavily dependent on the lens you choose to wear!

We all want life to be a certain way, with favourable conditions and dizzily happy moments, but life does not always cooperate. Even when we find we are having a great run for a while, things change, especially, just as we desperately want to hold on tight to how things are. Many times our reaction is characterised by lashing out and blaming others or ourselves. We feel victimized, ill-treated and we may give up all together and resign. In other cases, we become aggressive and yet other times we will seek solace in drink or food. Truth be told though, if we are truly honest with ourselves, none of these reactions help.

What if we choose to respond differently? What if we choose the lens that allows us to focus on a more positive approach? What if we were to pause right now, focus on being quiet, bring into mind a situation in our lives where things are not going as we expect or would like them to go, and if we could dig deep and tap into our deepest wisdom, how would we respond to the situation?

Will responding with wisdom solve the problem all the time? Possibly not, but what it will do, is offer us the best opportunity to come up with the best solution, be it long term, mid or short term to the problems we encounter.

Dr Carol Dweck, when she coined the growth mindset phrase taught us over 30 years ago that when we believed we could do better, then we put in the extra time and effort that led to higher achievement.

Responding in positive ways to our circumstances demonstrates our progress from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

It really all start in our minds. How might you respond with presence when you next find that life is not cooperating and things aren’t as you had wished or hoped?