Have you argued with someone who started arguing with you? Did you raise your voice after you were yelled at? Were you offended by something which was said to you? Did you become upset because of someone’s behavior? Did you get depressed because of the daily news?

Have you been pulled into someone else’s drama? Do you become enmeshed in the negative thinking of others? Did you feel manipulated by the behavior of other people? Do you feel awkward saying “no” to situations you don’t want to participate in?

You don’t have to participate in any of the above scenarios. You may not have control over what other people do, but your response is up to you. You can change the manner in which you interact with others.

You have total control over your thoughts and actions. Just because someone acts, you do not have to participate by reacting. Your participation in drama makes you feel bad without helping anyone or improving anything.

You participate by reacting. A reaction is spontaneous and emotional. A response is thought out and planned. An appropriate response keeps you from participating in negative interactions. Your response keeps you focused on a positive objective by programming your mind to take the appropriate action.

Identify beforehand your overall objectives. Objectives should be simple and straightforward, such as being happy, healthy, and at peace. Avoid any behavior which compromises your objectives.

The next time a person wants to argue with you, determine what will be accomplished if you participate. More often than not, nothing positive will result. Therefore, don’t waste time getting pulled in. Instead, politely excuse yourself or change topics.

Don’t participate in being offended. The world is filled with all kinds of people with all types of opinions. If a movie offends you, don’t watch it. Change the channel when you are offended by a T.V. program. Don’t read books, newspapers, or magazines you find offensive. Avoid visiting web sites that upset you. Everyone has a right to express their opinion. You have a right to ignore them.

Don’t take things personally. If someone says something insulting, walk away instead of participating. No one can take advantage of you without your permission. Attempting to retaliate, get even, or teach someone a lesson is a waste of time.

Don’t participate in group think or blindly conform to conventional wisdom. Don’t participate in peer pressure. Think for yourself. Question anything which doesn’t make sense. Make your own decisions based on what’s in your best interests.

Don’t participate in negativity. Purge all negative self-talk. What you tell yourself programs your mind. Tell yourself what you can and will do. Look for solutions instead of wallowing in problems. Minimize time spent with negative, problem oriented people. Connect with those who are positive, solution oriented.

Guard your time. Turn down discretionary activities that are contrary to your objectives. Always decline invitations courteously. Instead of using “no,” respond with, “Thank you for thinking of me, I really appreciate the invitation. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to participate due to a prior commitment.”

Avoid being judgmental because doing so is participating. Everyone is free to live as they see fit. It’s enough of a responsibility overseeing what you are doing. Don’t participate in the lives of others by criticizing what they are doing.

Concentrate on living your life to its fullest. Follow your own path. Pursue your goals. Don’t participate in negative behavior because it inhibits your progress. Change your reactions to responses by always thinking before you speak or act.

NOW AVAILABLE: “Dare to Live Without Limits,” the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at bryan@columnist.com or write him c/o this paper.

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