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Reaction can be your best friend and your worst enemy at the same time. In the case of reflexes, say trying to swerve around the car that suddenly slammed on his brakes in front of you, thus avoiding getting yourself impaled on your own steering column, is a positive example of reaction. However, there are many times our reactions get us in more trouble than we would like, particularly when our emotions get involved.

It can be something small that sets you off, like someone cutting in front of you in line or merging into your lane of traffic without signaling. You find yourself getting angry because this person either thinks they can do whatever they want without considering others, or the person is just a complete moron who isn’t aware there is anyone else around them. When you find yourself in these situations, before you slam on the horn or say something rude (which could get you shot if you happen to live in Los Angeles), try taking into consideration the other person’s perspective. Maybe they really didn’t see you. Sure, they should have looked, but you don’t know what was on their mind at the time. Think about it … how many times have you done this to other people without meaning to? Then again, how many times have you done it and not even known? It’s all a matter of perspective. Everyone screws up and everyone has bad days. People are going to make mistakes from time to time, and you just have to learn to deal with them accordingly.

Someone might say, “Well, that person was a jerk and they deserve to hear about it. Why shouldn’t you get angry at them?” For a couple of reasons … one, what good does it do really? You get yourself worked up, and then you’re in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Is that person really worth wrecking your day over? Hardly … especially when you consider that was has taken place is so small and insignificant in the scale of your life. You will probably never see this person again, for one thing; and for another, it’s just going to happen again tomorrow and from another person. It’s a waste of energy and is something you would probably forget within the next 20 minutes anyway. This is called “choosing your battles wisely.” Save your anger and energy towards matters that are worthy of it. Granted, irritation is a natural thing to experience when dealing with the idiocy of others; if it ultimately has no bearing on your life than your initial aggravation at that time, it would only be considered wise of you to write it off as the insignificant event that it is.

Secondly, consider yourself. Would you like it everyone jumped down your neck the second you made one little mistake? Tolerance is very hard lesson for people to learn. Intolerance is something most people can gladly point out in others, but rarely recognize it in their selves. If you are truly going to learn to master yourself, you need to recognize all of your traits, even (and ESPECIALLY) the ones you don’t like to admit to having. Furthermore, if you learn the lesson of tolerance and show an ability to exercise it accordingly, you never know how it will pay off. You could end up making the greatest ally of your life for it. No one ever gets ahead by ticking everyone else off. (If anything, that makes people all that more anxious to tear you down.)

This brings us to a very interesting point to consider. How many teachers that were in opposition to your way of thinking would have been able to teach you anything if they had berated you the entire time they were trying to bring their point across? Which teachers made the greatest impact on your life? It is most likely those teachers that could clearly illustrate the flaws in your viewpoint from a logical and noncondescending perspective. Perhaps to do that, they had to show you that they understood where your perspective was coming from in order to show you where the problems were. By showing you that they were able to see other perspectives, thus avoiding setting off your reactivity towards their opposition in your views, they were able to keep you in an objective mind frame in order to see the validity in their teachings. Even the greatest tyrants of the world had start from this perspective, until they built up such a following they were able to rule by fear alone. (And still ended up being crushed in the end after they pissed off enough people. All in all, the “rule by fear” concept rarely survives.)

Reactivity is something you want to gauge very carefully. Make sure that you are using it in the right circumstances, as opposed to letting it use you. Even when dealing with the arguing of viewpoints, the quickest way to be discredited as illogical and unintelligible is to be reactive and insulting when the other person’s viewpoint does not align to yours. If there is a logic flaw in the other person’s perspective, find the best way to illustrate it by use of their perspective in a situation where it will not fit. However, keep in mind that one person’s perspective may still fit in other circumstances and is also a product of their own experiences. When you attack that person’s standpoint, they may feel that you are attacking them on a personal level and cause them to shut you off. This kind of tactic will be disastrous in situations where mutual agreement is required, such as in business or teaching. It becomes that much more difficult if the person you are speaking with has a tendency towards over-reactivity as well. This puts you in the position of having to remain that much more objective and levelheaded if you wish for anything productive to result from your interaction.

For those who feel they suffer from inability to control their anger, meditation is highly suggested. With time and practice, you will be able to summon a meditative state wherever you are in a matter of seconds when you require it. This will help you stay in a rational mind frame even when everyone else around you cannot. It is often said that the best leaders are able to stay calm in times of crisis. Conduct yourself as a leader, and you will eventually become a leader.