Intelligent Action

Words: Nelressa STALLINGS-FAYE

It is important to make sure that you focus on your activity rather than expecting others to act for you, or change themselves. This is your reflective learning and, thus, only you have the responsibility for yourself, while others hold their own responsibilities and make their own choices.

While studying for my Master’s, I came across a passage that I had to read for the class. What it represented for me is the importance of mental well-being and having a balance of what we can and cannot control. Being in control of our actions and taking responsibility for our emotions is a great key to emotional wellness.

For example, there was a woman at work who did not care for me. Even though we came from different backgrounds and cultures it should not have affected the way we interacted with each other. But, on the contrary, she would constantly belittle my country and ‘people from America.’ We are all entitled to our opinions, but we all might not necessarily need to use them. For about ten months I was subjected to my co-workers’ insults and disdain. I tried nicely asking a few times for her to be opened-minded and ‘let go’ some of her constant berating, but this fuelled her to continue.

Since I could not remove myself from my office where the insults were being hurled, I would have to gain control of my mental and spiritual space. Using the situation as a spiritual practice, I gauged where I was spiritually. When listening, I would sometimes feel nervous, anxious, or angry. I would ask myself why I felt that way. I was usually focused too much on what was going on with others, and not myself.

I was feeling upset over something that was outside of my control — another person’s feelings. I wanted to react, or bite back, with a clever comeback, but I had to think deeply about the repercussions of this act. On the other hand, it is important to understand and consider how my actions might affect another’s well-being before doing anything. May be, something bad had happened to her with an American? I can’t be sure. People need to be responsible for how they feel and I could not change how she felt — and, that was just fine. If the woman felt a certain way about Americans, then that would be her own opinion and she would have to miss out being friends with a super-awesome American [tooting my own horn].

Sitting quietly, while the voices around me chattered away, I would place myself in a state of oneness. By sitting quietly, eyes closed, or opened, I would breathe deeply for 1-3 minutes in silence. At this time, I could feel my heart rate slowing down, my muscles letting go and relaxing, and the air entering and exiting my body. I would run through a few questions silently to myself like, “Is anything wrong at this moment? Can I change anything at this moment? Am I physically hurt, or ill, from my co-workers’ negative words?” The answer always seemed to be no. I took control of my emotions and placed myself back into a state of natural, or neutral, being. I did not want to let someone else’s actions control my emotions.

It is not always easy to determine how people will deal with us in public, or at home, but the most important part of the journey is our dealing with the outcome. If you have a difficult situation that you are dealing with, continue to stay calm and check on how you are feeling internally. It will not only benefit your health, but it will empower you from the negativity around you — while creating lightness and space.

So, start and carry lightness and mental space around you, right now. You’ll be much better off with it.

NELRESSA STALLINGS-FAYE, BA, MA, TESOL/TEFL/TOEFL, a former writer-copywriter-PR consultant, is US-certified and licensed K-12 educator, Cambridge certified lecturer, international administrative co-ordinator and research student from the University of Exeter. She currently works with the indigenous Yu’pik tribes in northern Alaska as a licensed educator and ESOL specialist.

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