"He's is such an asshole!"
How infuriating! The guy with the leaf blower. The people who park in front of your driveway. The friend who blows you off.
People can be thoughtless, selfish and mean-spirited. Disagreements on social media quickly flash into hate.
Here's a news flash:
It's good news that you're the problem. (Though you probably don't think so.)
Good news! Good news??? Why is it good news that I’m the problem? Wait - you should see the other guy.
Here’s why: If somebody else is the problem, we’re screwed. Hosed. Hopeless.
Other people are gonna behave the way they behave. No amount of fuming, complaining or manipulating is going to change it.
But, here's the great news: if YOU are the problem, you have the opportunity to change so other people's drama slides off you like a breeze over washed silk.
You have two choices:
- Go on being annoyed. On and on. Over and over. Until you die.
- Transform your irritation and anger into amusement and peace.
Irritated used to be an understatement. My ex was to blame (for everything), my mom was too wrapped up in herself and my bosses didn't "get it." I complained a lot. People didn’t move fast enough. Defer to me enough. Award me enough. My inner state was agitated, anxious and resentful. As a result, my outer world was chaos and drama.
It was intolerable.
After I reached the breaking point, I experimented with a few simple tools. I share them with you below. They focus on transforming us before, during and after interactions with problem people.
Today, my baseline is buoyant. I'm calm and light-hearted most of the time. When emotional storms arise, I watch them move through without getting capsized by the waves.
I’m neutral and kind to my ex. I’m close to my mom. She even chose to live near me, and I see her several times a week. And as for bosses, well, I had to start my own business to escape them, but I did!
You can have this emotional freedom as well. Imagine being neutral, amused and peaceful in the face of the situations and people that currently set you off!
You can be amused rather than irritated. Expansive rather than clenched. Forgiving rather than being self-righteous.
Which of these states do you experience regularly?
- “Just trying to help”
How many boxes did you check? If it’s more than 1, you’re reading the right blog.
Before - Change Your Perspective
We always find what we’re looking for. If we’re looking for evidence that the world isn’t giving us what we deserve, that we’re not to blame for any issues and for validation that we’re right, we’ll find it.
I used to bond with other women whose complaints matched mine. Maligning other people was our currency and connection.
I made a Copernican shift. And you can, too.
Remember Copernicus? He posited that the sun doesn’t revolve around the earth as western civilization firmly believed. Instead, the center of our universe is the sun, and the earth orbits it.
When we’re annoyed or angry by another person, we have ourselves squarely in the center of our universe. The other person is “supposed” to be orbiting us. But in their mind, We are supposed to be orbiting them! No wonder we’re so often in collision with other people.
We get trapped in our fixed point of view. Our point of view is from us as center of the universe. I invite you to expand your awareness to the possibility that other people have points of view that are as valid to them as yours are to you.
What might we see if we imagine the world through the other person’s point of view? Withhold the judgments and stories you have about “They’re just trying to be mean and control me” or “They’re idiots.”
Their behavior makes as much sense to them as yours does to you. Nobody wakes up in the morning and intends to be awful. We are all doing our very best at every moment.
The Copernican Shift requires us to give up our addiction to being right. Would you rather be right or happy? (My teenager wants both. Simultaneously.) Sometimes we can be right and happy. But most times, we can’t.
Get out of the center of your universe. Get curious about how others see their worlds and how they make sense out of their behavior. (Not in a judgy condescending voice, however.)
Some questions that are neutral.
“Help me understand how that is for you…”
“I don’t understand where you’re coming from.”
“How are you making sense out of our disagreement?”
During – I’ll allow reality to be.
Acceptance doesn’t go far enough. Acceptance implies we become a doormat. That we are passive in the face of challenges. That we are supposed to like something that is fundamentally not okay.
Instead, let’s experiment with the idea of simply allowing things, feelings, situations, people to be as they are. We simply recognize what exists. No matter how much I resist it, it’s going to take me another 20 minutes to bike home. People are going to be slow getting off an airplane. My neighbor is strutting around shirtless. Whether I accept these things or not, they are happening.
Resistance is futile. Truly futile.
Allowing reality to sink in opens up new possibilities.
Practice allowing things to be as they are. Channel your inner Judge Judy and simply say, “I’ll allow it.” I’ll allow the coffee to be hot. The broccoli to be green. The chair to be orange.
Soon you’ll realize how goofy this is. Your illusion (delusion?) that you are able to control anything will bubble away.
After – Change yourself
We think our feelings affect other people. When we’re angry, we think it hurts them. And when we forgive, we also think it’s about them.
People, we have this all wrong. Anger and resentment are like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Frankly, they don’t care that you’re angry. In fact, they aren’t thinking about you and your precious feelings. Not at all.
Forgiving soothes your own soul. Forgiveness is NOT saying a person’s actions (or inaction) was okay, that it didn’t matter and that now you want to have dinner with them.
Forgiveness is letting go of the anger and self-righteousness that has you all het up.
Try asking the Universe to bestow upon the other person health and happiness, prosperity and peace.
Try this every day, especially if you don’t mean it.
Try it over and over until you see that if the other person is happy and whole, it’s better for all of us.
Problems are one of the currencies of life. (I believe love and connection is the other.) Stuff doesn’t go right. When we shift our perspective, dissipate our resistance and practice forgiveness, we gain freedom, expansiveness and lightness.