These are 4 questions to use when you are faced with a challenging interpersonal situation and are not sure what to do.
I have used these 4 questions since 1980. During difficult times, I carry them with me on an index card because I find it easy to forget them in the heat of things.
1. What is my responsibility in this situation?
This is asking if what is happening right now is my responsibility (did I do something to contribute to or cause it). If the answer is no, I just let it go and be supportive of the other person. If the answer is yes, I move on to question 2.
2. What can I do about it?
If for example, I made a mistake and hurt someone’s feelings, I could decide that calling up the other person and apologizing would be a good way to make amends.
3. When can I do it?
I might not be able to call or see the other person right away, so I could decide that next Monday I will call the person and apologize.
4. How can I be more gentle to myself in this situation?
This is the most important question and step of them all. If I have decided what is mine, what and when to do something to make the situation right, then all that is left is to forgive and be kind to myself.