One of the key principles of personal growth is to become aware that our well-being depends essentially on ourselves, not on the outside world but on the way we perceive it. Each of us can learn to react to external circumstances in a healthier and more respectful way of our own being.
Reactions are first of all the emotions that are triggered in us in relation to our personal interpretation of circumstances: emotions are chemical reactions that occur in my body following a thought I have. By working on our thinking, we can gradually change the chemistry of our bodies and the way we feel. The emotions we perceive also push us to act to have an impact on our internal or external reality: if my emotions are positive my actions will be influenced accordingly and vice versa.
The possibility that we as humans have of shaping ourselves, essentially to get better, is something that I have experienced directly in my life and in my personal development process. It is also a skill that is important to develop, as I like to stress in my coaching sessions.
Perhaps because of my original philosophical background, I find that a second aspect is essential for there to be an authentic development process in a person. In an interpersonal relationship – professional, romantic or otherwise – each person holds responsibility for their actions. The fact that each of us reacts in their own way to a given circumstance and that we all have the possibility of shaping our way to react does not mean that the other, the person with whom we interact, is relieved of the responsibility for their own actions and therefore the impact they have on the world and on others.
The human being is by nature incoherent, in the sense that we are torn by our impulses, our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions. It is practically impossible to maintain a coherent life. And yet, this limitation which is ours does not exempt us from thinking about the effects that our actions can have – on ourselves and on others – and acting accordingly. This responsibility belongs entirely to us unless we believe that everyone should be free to act at any time as they see fit them without considering the consequences.
By taking responsibility for our own acts – be they actions or reactions – we help develop human relationships based on respect and mutual support rather than the imposition of unilateral visions.