Book: Reflections

Reflections - bringing attention to your daily life by Désirée Steinmann

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Reflections of the Week

How not to get stressed by family members, friends and other people in the Christmas time? Part 1: Who is responsible?

2012-11-24 14:37 (comments: 2)

I think it’s enormously helpful to be clear from the start about who is responsible for what. I’m not talking here only about the typical responsibilities like setting the table, cooking or who is supposed to buy gifts for family members and friends.

I think it’s obvious that having clarity about such tasks can prevent a lot of unnecessary tension and misunderstandings. However, today I would like to take you one step further in the prevention strategy: I’d like to take you inside of your mind and help you examine your thoughts!

Have you ever looked at your mother-in-law or your sister and thought she should stay out of your business? Have you ever got upset about a shop assistant who was unfriendly or unhelpful when you were doing your Christmas shopping? Have you said to yourself that this person should be nicer to you and treat you better? Have you said to your partner in the last few years: “You could help more and you could pick up after yourself!”? And when your partner didn’t act as you wanted them to, how did it make you feel? Upset? Angry? Frustrated? Neglected or not respected?

Let’s take a closer look at this example:

tl_files/bilder/VIP/VIP Success Mindmap Bild/My business your business - 2.png

In this drawing we see “me” and “you”. In our example this will be you and your partner. Your partner is the strong, clearly visible figure in the circle on the left, and you are next to him or her in the same circle but marked in light gray. The circles represent the respective areas of control and/or influence. When you tell your partner, or when you think that he/she should help more the fact remains that you cannot influence what they really do. The actions of the other person are completely controlled by this person and not by you! So when you tell your partner to help you more, you are leaving your circle of influence and at the same time the reality is that you have no factual control over his/her actions. Only your partner can decide if he/she wants to help you more or not. Standing in somebody else’s circle of influence you are bound to be powerless and will leave you feeling like a victim. As a victim you will have negative thoughts and it will put you in apposition of weakness and helplessness.

So what can you do instead? How can you remain in control instead of becoming a victim? And this regardless of your partner’s decision? (Perhaps he/she has a good reason not to help!)

First, you have to get clarity about who is responsible for what.

tl_files/bilder/VIP/VIP Success Mindmap Bild/My business your business - 1.png

Your partner’s responsibility is to decide what he/she will do or will not do. Remember, this is not your responsibility but your partner’s! You need to go back to your circle of influence where you are strong and where you have absolute control. From your circle you can communicate to your partner what you want.  You can explain why you need help and ask your partner why he/she doesn’t help. Without frustration, anger and the feeling that you are not respected it is much easier to have a dialog! And if you don’t think you can accept your partner’s reasons for not helping, you can then explain what consequences is this going to have if you have to continue doing everything yourself. And again, it is your partner’s responsibility to decide what he/she is going to do about these consequences. You always have the absolute control over your actions, just like your partner!

None of you is then the “victim” or the “intruder”. There are only two people who happen to have different points of view and who can respectively decide what they want to do about them.

Instead of getting angry at the other person, focus more on what you want. Instead of getting upset about not being respected by your partner, give yourself the respect you deserve!
The yellow line in the middle is the neutral zone. Clear boundaries bring us back to ourselves and from this position we are more relaxed and open towards the others.

So next time when you get upset about somebody, try to ask yourself who is responsible for what in this situation. Do I want something from this person that is beyond my circle of influence? What can I do to communicate clearly from my position of strength what I want and what I’m going to do?


Next week we are going to talk about the yellow line in the picture. Until then, practice being clear about the areas of responsibility! Try to reflect more often about who was responsible for what and try to identify those moments when you were in the “wrong” circle.   




Christmas gift suggestions:

 To your enemy, forgiveness.

To an opponent, tolerance.

To a friend, your heart.

To a customer, service.

To all, charity.

To every child, a good example.

To yourself, respect.

Oren Arnold


He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.

Laozi (Lao Tzu)


Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength.

Frances de Sales



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Comment by Marjan | 2012-11-25

Hi Desiree, I always love your newsletters and this one came exactly at the right time. I was having an argument with my son and your drawings plus Katie's video really hit home! Thanks for that!

Comment by Désirée | 2012-11-25

Marjan, you are welcome and thanks for your kind words. I will use more and more drawings as they really help to explain a concept much better. Greetings also to you son!