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Keeping My Cool…Breezy Days Ahead?

August 23, 2010

I’ve heard this quote many times:
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
— Unknown (Sometimes attributed to Patrick Overton)
I had a situation come up recently in which I could have spoken badly to some people and acted very immaturely toward them. It was a situation in which my integrity, skills, and intelligence to apply said skills were questioned. I felt belittled and embarrassed. However, I tried to be professional and keep calm. Sometimes after I ended a call I would vent or complain to myself, vowing to call again and to “make the situation right”. However, I never made that call. I never made a visit. I just let things rest for a time. This response hasn’t been typical of me. I have been one to protest, to try to argue my point and to sometimes behave immaturely. Lately, however, I have been a listener. I have been more sensitive and less verbal. I have adopted some patience. Each time I resisted making an unkind comment or showing my frustration, it became an easier action. So I’m wondering if that quote can be reversed. If I want to change my character, I need to start working on my habits. If habits are repeated actions, I need to watch what I’m doing and break the cycle–and own the mistakes I make. If I want to change my character and my actions, the whole way I present myself, including my words, needs to change. My words are the overflow of my heart and my mind–my thoughts need to be checked. It seems that small steps lead to character formation, and only small, gradual steps can help to build a new one. I can’t go to a store and buy a new reputation. So I’m grateful I tried being more mature in this situation. I’m grateful I didn’t do what first came to mind and that I kept quiet. I’m grateful that I have people in my life that would have been ashamed of me, had I reacted in an ugly way…and people that are bound to be proud of me for how I conducted myself. So I’m asking myself if it’s going to be easier for me, next time a rough situation arises, to be calm and graceful. I think I’ve answered my question here–I’m building a better reputation and a better response system, step by step, and that’s an awesome thing. I think that the first step toward grace in each situation will be the hardest, but I have to remember love–and that grace and love mean not judging a situation too quickly and to not always give the “wrath” people may “deserve”.
About my specific situation, also–
keeping my cool really paid off. I got a call today thanking me for my patience and diligence, and telling me that I did do the right thing, and that, since I did, an issue could be resolved that has gone undetected. I was also told that I am appreciated
and that I do a good job. That felt amazing. All I was able to say was “Thank you” and “You’re welcome”. I was awestruck. I had to thank God for quietly guiding me and helping me guard my heart this week. I just pray that my heart would be changed into one that is much more like the gentle spirit I recently demonstrated. I know God will help me.
Do you, dear reader, have a bad habit that needs to be changed? Take your first step the next chance you get–it’s up to you! And God will help you!

Yours truly,
Helen Clairese

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