November 3, 2020

Owning our reactions to people

bill moseley

I want to empower you by offering you what you already have – YOU.  We often make our satisfaction or happiness contingent on a client, on a smooth system, on a coworker doing their job correctly. Disempowerment, literally an abdication of self-responsibility, occurs when we tell ourselves that the source of my happiness lies outside of myself.  I call these externalizations, and they kill human potential.  The second you say, “when that’s fixed, I’ll be good,” you diminished your capacity to achieve the right outcome.

In “Rediscovering Life,” Anthony De Mello offers the following example:

You’re having trouble with people? You find somebody selfish, moody, unreliable, rejecting, stupid, intolerable, irresponsible—you name it. Think of the troubles you have with human relations. Do you know the root of all of those problems? Hold onto your chairs. You. They? No, you, you. You’re having trouble? You’re the cause. How come you’re affected?

You come to me and you say, “Doctor, I’ve got stomach cramps. It’s awful. It really is awful.”

Then I, as your doctor, say, “You know, I’ll prescribe something for your wife.”

And you say, “Okay, that already makes me feel better, Doctor. Thanks.”

Now, isn’t that crazy? Who’s having the trouble? You, right? But we’ve been brought up to think that everybody else has to change.

If you’re upset, there’s something wrong with you. Let’s clean that up first. You say, “But you mean she’s not wrong?” She is wrong. “You mean, she shouldn’t change?” Of course, she should. But you’re not the guy who’s going to change her, you know. Because you need to change first.


I share this in hope of giving you a more powerful vantage point for interpreting what we find stressful or uncomfortable.  We are all incredibly capable people – filled with unknown talents.  I consistently encounter people who are far more able than they suppose.  Own or trust in that capacity starting with understanding:  When you are uncomfortable, you are called to action.

Related content