Don't let other people steer your ship
What “The Push” really tells us about human nature
I've talked, briefly, about The Push before. While I was initially mesmerized by the idea that a certain subset of the population can be easily manipulated to commit murder, it's the larger idea of Derren Brown's special on Netflix that has stayed with me:
Often, we readily hand over authorship of our lives.
Road rage: The struggle is real
The epiphany came in traffic. I was trying to merge onto the I-17S, signal on and everything. A dude in a Mustang sped up instead of allowing me over, and, without thinking, I flipped him off.
Now, I preach positivity. If Andrew W.K. started a church, I'd worship at the pews. Road rage isn't a thing I believe in, and, yet, one action by a total stranger sends me into a flurry of obscene gestures.
In other words, I allowed some nameless jerk-off to snatch the pen from my hand and write in the book of my life. And it isn't the first time. Just yesterday, I talked yesterday about how my coworkers' negativity slowly put a damper on my own mood.
Death by a thousand cuts
This is how Derren Brown intended to wear down his mark and coerce him into committing murder: small acts, each sending Brown's victim further and further into a web of lies.
So it is in the real world. When I first started driving, I never would have dreamt of flipping someone off. But with each act of careless driving I endured, my resolve wore down. After many years, the person I swore I'd never be was the person I'd become.
And that's slightly unnerving.
Our lives are our stories. As a writer, the words that spill out from my mind and onto the page aren't immediately perfect. I pause, reread and, most importantly, edit myself. We all could stand to do a little bit of that in life, too.
Don't let some jerk be your co-author. Pause, take a deep breath and write a way forward that isn't influenced by another person's thoughtlessness. Because that's the kicker: often, the actions that make us angry have no thought or intention behind them.
You can't control what other people do. But you are the captain of your ship. So don't just spin the wheel like a maniac. Take it firmly in your grasp and steer your emotions with intention.