The Ripple Effect

Sep 16, 2018

Every so often I have experiences that trigger memories of old blogs I have written.  Given the elevated stress levels around me this week, I found one I’m feeling the need to retitle and repost:

Feelings are normal – and what you do with those feelings can say a lot about both who you are as a person, as well as what you value.  When stressed, people often say and do things they shouldn’t. This should be expected in times of crisis, when reactions are more prevalent than responses.  Our goal, however, should be to develop coping mechanisms which allow us to inhibit offensive reactions and make conscious choices to respond in a healthy manner when frustrated.

I am reminded of this issue every time I step into an airport.   It’s like a little test lab for the stress response.  I have seen individuals handle flight delays and other transportation problems with grace, and conversely, I have seen a whole lotta ugly. One trip, in particular, stands out in my memory when I was pleasantly surprised by the response of a few passengers on my short trip to Dallas.

The 40-minute flight detoured to Austin and turned into a 4-hour mini-adventure.  We were all inconvenienced, but the prize went to two ladies who sat under an air vent that dripped, and then poured water (from condensation) on their heads.  There were no other seats, so there they sat.  At first, they stuffed napkins into the vents, but once that strategy failed, the stewardess resorted to giving the passengers trash bags to wear on their heads. 

These ladies had every reason to complain and be unpleasant – but, they didn’t.  In fact, their understanding nature really had a positive impact on everyone around them.  Therein lies the lesson.  Just as one drop of rain can raise the level of the ocean, one response or interaction can have a ripple effect on the emotional climate of an entire group or area.  I sure hope my response to stressful situations send more positive ripples than negative ones.  Time will continue to tell.

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