Have you ever been perturbed about something? Are you persistently annoyed with someone? Do you experience repeated disappointment? Welcome to the human emotion of upset.
According to the dictionary, upset is the disruption of normal functioning of the body and mind. Whether it is the driver in front of us, the line at the grocery store checkout, dirty dishes in the sink, or the toilet seat left up -- the potential for upset plagues our daily lives.
Tiny upsets that accumulate eventually sprout big UPSET that ruin relationships and joy in life. There is a fool-proof way to weed upset that will allow your personal leadership to thrive and life to flourish.
Whether large or small, when uprooting upset there are three key words to remember: expectations, intention, and communication. I’ll call these “upset root” words.
These are the hopes, anticipations, desires, and values we all hold dear. We plant them and they seed our goals and dreams. If they didn’t matter we wouldn’t care or get upset.
If you are upset, look at the following:
- What did you anticipate, hope, or desire?
- What did you count on that didn't happen?
- What did you want that you didn’t get?
- And in some cases, what did you get that you didn’t want?
When one or more of your expectations are not met, it is natural to be upset. But remember, you planted your expectation seeds.
This is what you mean, propose, or plan. When what you mean is not received as intended or what you propose or plan does not happen -- you may feel thwarted. No one likes to feel stymied or frustrated, let alone see their proposals rejected or plans ruined.
- What did I plan, propose, or attempt that was rejected by someone else?
- What did I plan, propose, or attempt that was ruined by circumstance?
- What did I plan, propose, or attempt that was spoiled by me?
That’s right; often we thwart our own intentions by our own actions or inaction, by how we think and feel, and even by what we believe. Humans by nature are creatures of habit and also master creators of meaning.
So again, remember -- you seeded the intention and created the meaning. Being able to clearly identify what you intend before you begin any endeavor or enter a personal or work relationship will help eliminate upset, or at least get to the source if it occurs. The best course of action is to write your intentions down, but even if you don’t, rest assured they are buried somewhere deep in your mind coupled with your expectations.
Third, and most importantly, communication is the exchange of words, thoughts, feelings, or actions. It is the delivery method humans use to convey expectations and intention. Sometimes words convey one thing but body language or human energy communicates something different.
When you withhold what you think or feel about a given situation or plan – or suppress what you need and want – you abdicate responsibility for your life, relinquish your power to someone else or circumstance and suffer from a loss of integrity.
Finally, ask these questions:
- What did I not say, withhold, or suppress?
- What did I communicate indirectly that I did not intend?
While upset is personal, it is also contagious. When you communicate your upset inappropriately you infect others and spread your upset around.
So how do you weed upset from your life in a productive and positive way?
It is very much like the perpetual weeding you do to produce a flourishing garden. You can ignore the weeds or treat them topically, but unless you eradicate them at their source -- the root -- they will pop up again.
The first step is to own the upset. Second, is to identify the source of your upset. Now you have the power to do something about it. It may mean adjusting your expectations, holding others accountable for what they promised, or sharing your disappointment without blame.
In all cases, clearly owning the upset will help you get to the root of the upset almost immediately. Why, because your upset is yours -- not someone else’s. If you don’t uproot the small upsets in your life, you will continue to grow the weeds of unhappiness, disappointment, and frustration and will be ill prepared to handle the big stuff.
It takes courage to practice this kind of personal leadership and responsibility. You can begin today by weeding little upsets daily. Then when it comes to the big stuff? You will have built the skill of a “master gardener” in your life and are able to handle any situation without blame.
Debra J. Slover, founder of the Leadership Garden® Legacy has a goal to seed and nurture 11 million Leadership Gardens by 11/11/11. Author of the U.N.I.Q.U.E. line of empowerment books for youth and adults; she is an educator, speaker, and advocate for creating positive home and school climates. Her expertise stems from seven years as a classroom teacher, 20 years directing a statewide youth leadership in prevention program in schools, as well as organizing 20 state and national youth-led conferences. A mother of five/grandmother of six, she resides with her husband in Albany, Oregon. To learn more visit: www.LeadershipGardenLegacy.com.