Keeping Your Sanity
by Jim Stovall

Have you ever heard someone say -- or even caught yourself saying -- "That person is making me crazy"? This is a feeling we all experience from time to time, but it's important to realize that no one can affect us unless or until we give them permission to do so. The people who are closest to us have the greatest ability to affect us either positively or negatively. By virtue of the fact that they are someone we value either personally or professionally, we have automatically given them permission to have a great impact in our life.

For example, if you are walking along the sidewalk and a disheveled, homeless person in a severe state of intoxication stumbles up to you and says, "I don't like your shoes," this probably won't ruin your day, your next hour, or even occupy your thoughts beyond the immediate moment. On the other hand, if someone very close to you says, "I don't like your shoes," it may affect you greatly. You will either feel insulted and hurt or you will agree with them that there is, indeed, something wrong with your shoes.

All of us have imperfections, including those people whom we have allowed to be close to us and impact our lives. Let's say that someone you have a close relationship with is habitually late. This does not mean you cannot have a meaningful personal or professional relationship; it simply requires you to factor this into the equation. Assuming you have tried all positive and constructive ways to get this person to be on time, if they are still among the punctually-challenged, you have to be willing to deal with it internally.

If you are going to fret and yell and pull your hair every time this person is late, you are facing a lot of unpleasantness. The irony is that you will probably be the only one affected negatively. The person you are close to will breeze in 20 or 30 minutes late without a care in the world, and you will have allowed their tardiness to ruin your day.

We allow people to make us crazy when we don't allow them to be themselves. This is not to say that we shouldn't hold those we care about to a higher standard. It simply means if we expect perfection there won't be anyone in our lives, including ourselves.

Today's the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author, columnist, and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082, or by e-mail at

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Copyright 2002 by Jim Stovall. All rights reserved.

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