I have been thinking a lot lately about how the quality of my life and the lives of others around me hinge on the the ‘composure factor’. Have you ever regretted moments when you have reacted hastily in your personal, family and vocational life? Here are some common triggers that cause us to lose our composure:
- The boss makes you mad
- Your spouse hits a nerve
- Another driver fails to see you
- Your child does not listen
- Your friend makes a snide comment
- Your job is in jeapardy
- You buy a faulty product
Just reading that list may cause your blood pressure to increase! When we react hastily we are in danger of digging pits for ourselves that are hard to get out of, such as:
- saying harsh words that are difficult to retract
- escalating a situation that could have been difussed
- moving from one bad situation into another
- limiting future opportunities for advancement and promotion
No wonder the Bible warns that “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way” (Prov. 19:2). When (not if) something triggers you, God wants you to pause, gain your composure and gather the information you need so that you can make the best decision moving forward. The elder apostle Paul said to the younger Timothy, “As for you, be calm and cool and steady, accept and suffer unflinchingly every hardship” (2 Tim. 4:5a AMP).
Here are some ways that in my own life that I have learned the power of composure:
- Remember that you always have options– Oftentimes we lose our composure when we feel trapped or that we do not have options. When that happens, you need to take time on your own or with at trusted friend and do some brainstorming. If you are hitting a snag vocationally, list 20 ways that you could earn an living or provide another income stream for your family. At first you may only think of one or two, but if you force yourself to be creative and think through every option you will find that your situation is not limitting you- your way of thinking about the situation is limitting you.
- Pause before you react to naysayers– You can waste a lot of time in life trying to defend yourself rather than allowing the Lord to defend you. Often the best answer to a critic is no answer. If you must answer, gain your composure first and react with calm and grace. If they have some grain of truth in what they are saying, take it into consideration. However, you want your best energies to be flowing towards your most valued life goals rather than doing image management with people that may never see things your way. When you react in haste you are reacting like a cornered animal- and things are going to get messy. Do not remain a victim. Gain your dignity and power back by following the words of Christ to forgive, pray for and bless your enemies- in so doing you can literally feel a difference in your emotional state and your outlook on like. You are back in the drivers seat. You are being guided by wise choices and not by emotional reactions- and that makes you more powerful.
- Take the long view of success (or progress towards life/organizational goals)– Choose options that will best serve you in the long haul. I am talking about the difference between latching on to the nearest low-paying job and steadily working your way towards a certification that will pay you ten times the amount a year from now. It is the difference between venting and losing the relationship or humbling yourself so that the relationship has a chance in the future. I am naturally impatient, so I have had to learn the hard way that the best decision in the long-term is the best decision.
- Talk to yourself about all of the good reasons you have to keep your composure– Our motivations in life vary, so the things you may talk to yourself about may be different than mine. If someone it pushing your buttons, you may talk to yourself (yes, healthy people do this!) by saying “God loves me so I won’t let this person get me upset” or “I won’t react because I am going to protect my long-term career path and income possibilities” or “I am changing my family’s story so I am choosing to react to this situation in a calm manner”.
- Go daily to the Word of God to increase your composure– I am not exaggerating when I say this, but I find reasons to gain and keep my composure everyday when I read God’s Word. I learn how to respond to people. I learn how to find my security in Christ. I discover how to be gain God’s comfort and peace. Reading a chapter of Proverbs a day keeps ‘stupid’ away!
Question: Why don’t you post a quick comment below and let me know what some of your strategies are for keeping your composure?! You can leave a comment by clicking here.