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You know you are making progress when you stop reacting to things that would normally send you screaming in anger

By Nina Steele 

Finding happiness later in lifeI received a Facebook message from a close relative the other day asking for money. It was the latest of many requests, all of which I had said no to. The money being requested is supposedly to help with a project. Once again, as with the rest of my family, there is an assumption that as I live in the West with no children, they can pester me for money any time they feel like it. I would normally make a point of replying to this particular relative, but this time, I chose not to.

I was surprised at my own reaction. This relative and I have a history. He has a well-paid job, yet prefers to spend his money on clothes instead of planning for the future. I keep telling him not to expect anything from me, yet he keeps coming back, hoping he will get lucky one day. When he realised that I read his message and still had not bothered to reply, he sent me a thumbs-up to say he got it.

I have written about how personal growth is a big thing for me. I have never been to a psychotherapist. Every progress I have made to heal myself has come from books and online articles. I have always had this urge to understand things better, because ignorance is deadly. The more we know and understand how things work, the more likely we are to heal ourselves.

Anger is something I have been grappling with for a long time. About ten years ago, I remember telling a then work colleague that I hope in this lifetime, I will achieve a state of mind where nothing hurts anymore. It is quite a bold target, but of course everything is possible.

Non-reaction is something we often associate with monks and the likes. Through reality TV, confrontation has been normalised. Once upon a time, being called a drama queen was seen as an insult. Not anymore. Reality TV has made being a drama queen cool. We are meant to react to everything and not feel guilty about it.

Well I beg to differ. You cannot love peace as much as I do and like being a drama queen at the same time. Both states of mind are not compatible, which is why I now steer clear of reality TV. All they do is appeal to our baser instincts.

Learning not to react to other people’s actions, no matter how annoying, is the way forward for me. It is far from easy of course. It is an ongoing process with no end in sight. It is a promise to myself that I have to remind myself to keep for as long as I live. And every time I don’t react to something I would normally react to, I pat myself on the back, because I know how much effort it took.

Finding happiness later in life

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