After taking my son to start his first year of college in North Carolina, I came home to Providence with a little ache in my heart to have him gone. I was also tired from a couple of days travel and activities and was looking forward to a good nights sleep in my own bed.

My cat, Althea, had different plans. She was not happy that I had left her at home so she woke me up at 7am by breaking glasses. I am serious. She broke two glasses!

You should know that I had someone stay at the house with her for most of the time that I was gone. She was well cared for, even entertained, but for her that did not matter. She did not get what she felt entitled to.

So, she gave me the cat version of the middle finger.

She is now sleeping soundly on her chair like nothing ever happened. So what is the moral of the story?

No matter how hard you try, the people who love you may get angry if they don’t get what they want.

Why is this important? Think about choices have you made to avoid making others upset. Or how often have you doubted your direction because you made others upset? Or, even, how often have you not expressed your pleasure or displeasure to avoid upsetting others?

Next question is: How much do you think this effects your success and fulfillment?

You can’t create success or fulfillment if you pay too much attention to every whim and mood of the people around you. I am not saying not to care. In fact, the central focus of my life and work is about caring more. If we shut down and turn off we are not going to like ourselves or our work. But, we do need to learn to care about the right things.

The right things are:
Did I do the best I could?
Did I act in a way that is in line with my values?
Did I stay true to my intention?

We also need to determine when a negative reaction is a sign that we are letting go of what no longer serves us or when it is a sign that we are going in the wrong direction. Sometimes the frustration of another person can be a reason to jump to the conclusion that “it is a sign” you are going in the wrong direction.

Really, It is a moment to check in with yourself.

How do you feel about what you are doing and where you are heading? If you feel good when you think about your direction then keep going things are just shifting around you. If you don’t feel good about your direction then really pause to take in the feedback. See how it can help inform you about your next steps.

BY Dr. Kate Siner