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02 Feb, 2011

Events in our Lives by Rainer Rohde

Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: Coach Plus Articles|Coaching Articles

Events in our Lives by Rainer Rohde

The formula E+R=O stands for “The Events in our lives plus our Reaction to them equals the Outcomes we experience”. If we look at the parts of this formula, we can say that only one part is always fixed – namely the event.

Events happen, and we are likely not able to affect them and thus cannot do much to prevent them from happening. The other parts, the reaction as well as the outcome, are not fixed and may thus be changed.

Our feelings are often influenced by the events in our lives. This is natural and normal, but can affect how we feel about ourselves, leaving us with the notion that we are helplessly surrendering to these events. Our selfworth is often the first victim of such events, and its demise might be affecting our self-esteem and self-efficacy down the line. If events alone were responsible for the outcomes we perceive, the formula would read E=O, which it doesn’t. The formula shows that, in order to generate an outcome, there is another part in the formula that’s needed – our reaction to such an event; our reaction is thus the agency that we have.

We can benefit from this formula in all walks of life, but it has its greatest merits to the things that are dear to our hearts, especially the things about us that we perceive as our weaknesses.

How dare you say that to me?

I would like to reference the concept of E+R=O to the efforts people undergo in weight loss. If you are like me and are in the progress of losing weight, you might be very conscious about yourself and your self-awareness might not quite be as clear as you would like it to be.

Now imagine that someone walks up to you and tells you flat out “Hey, you’re fat!”. How does that make you feel? How do you react to such a statement? Your reaction mainly reflects on your self-image that you already had; you might feel hurt, not able to respond, and, once the person has stopped talking, resort to your inner self-talk. Your self-talk is the reaction to the event, and thus will generate the outcome for you. This self-talk may go like this: “Oh no, how can they say that to me? I am trying to look the best I can, be all nice, dress nice, have respect for everyone, and this person flat out tells me that I am fat. I am hurt! How can they do that? What have I done wrong? Nobody likes me. My mother was right – I will never be anyone worthwhile in my life…”.

This type of negative self-talk usually takes on a life of its own, sending one’s self-worth spiraling down. We also might linger on our negative thoughts for a while as well, resorting to eating some more candy or junk food which might make us feel better for a brief moment, but we mostly will not tackle the underlying problems
regarding our self-image whatsoever.

Your self-image

We tend to react like this because we blame the person that created this event for our feelings, but not our response to the event. Now imagine someone walking up to you saying “Hey, you’ve got green hair!”. How do you think that will make you feel? Your inner self-talk might go like this: “Why would anybody say that to me? I don’t have green hair…”. Your self-knowledge and the awareness that you do not have green hair allows you to easily dismiss such a statement in your mind, and your self-esteem is not affected. But why is it that we have such a hard time with the – sometimes oh so painful – truth about us that is stated by others? If we are fat, we are fat. We are what we are, but we might hold a self-image of us of the time where we maybe weren’t fat yet. Or, we say to ourselves that beneath our flabs of fat is a skinny person waiting to come out. Or, our self-image is based on wishful thinking with us one day hoping to “get there”. Since other people cannot “see” inside our heads and thus do not know what we are thinking (after all, how are they supposed to know our intentions) about ourselves, they cannot be blamed for that they say.

Don’t blame others for how you feel

People speak their minds, no matter what. How could the person in our first example have reacted to the statement “Hey, you are fat!” in a better, more self-assuring way? They could have said to themselves: “Yes, I know that I am fat but I have accepted that fact long time ago. You are not telling me anything new or anything that I am not aware of. No big deal!” Where do you think their self-esteem goes this time? Up or down? Well, I am sure it will not go down this time; it might stay on the same level as before, or it even may go up, as they are able to accept who and what they are. Bringing this level of awareness to oneself is always very empowering.

Even though accepting one’s circumstance does not necessarily mean one likes it, it does enable a certain level of self-assertiveness and sets the prerequisites that allow for a later change in life. It may be hard to pinpoint where exactly our self-image is coming from, but we can say for sure that others do not know what we think about ourselves; we can thus not blame them if they are – what we might perceive as - inconsidered, rude, or speak their minds freely. They generate the event, and we react to it. Our reactions alone, however, create the outcome for us. Depending on how we react, then, we either feel good or bad about what they have said.

Our reactions to the events in our lives help us take an active part in shaping our own reality; it is up to us to cope with any event in the best possible way. Nobody can make us feel good or bad about ourselves – it’s our reaction that makes us feel the way we feel.

by Rainer Rohde

4 Responses to "Events in our Lives by Rainer Rohde"

1 | Tweets that mention Events in our Lives by Rainer Rohde - Coaching Blog --

February 2nd, 2011 at 7:09 pm


[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jan Lonnen, The Coaching Academy. The Coaching Academy said: Events in our Lives by Rainer Rohde – [...]

2 | Susan Grandfield

February 3rd, 2011 at 2:04 pm


Thanks for your article Rainer. It makes a fantastic point which I am sure we can all recognise in our own lives. All too easily, we let other people influence our emotions and our reactions, when in fact if we are more self assured we can react in a less emotive way and therefore enjoy a different outcome.

3 | Tweets that mention Events in our Lives by Rainer Rohde - Coaching Blog --

February 3rd, 2011 at 4:17 pm


[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John@TCM, The Coaching Academy. The Coaching Academy said: Events in our Lives by Rainer Rohde #coachingacademy [...]

4 | Di Winn

February 8th, 2011 at 11:06 am


If only this formula was in the school’s national curriculum! It is the first one that has made any sense to me EVER, and had I been privy to such an obvious approach to handling life’s events I may have been able to handle the massive event that changed my life at 15 years old, that shaped my life negatively until 30, that only now am I able to make changes for a positive outcome. I guess for me the moral of the story is… it is NEVER too late to change the Outcome of the Event and Reaction. An inspired read Rainer, many thanks, Di Winn :-) xx

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