Learning ways to deal more effectively with other people is a very good use of our time, considering how much of it is spent interacting with them. Not much ‘intro’ type stuff to say since I did it in the first part. So, I’ll just jump right into part two for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!
It’s Nothing Personal
Just like not holding other people responsible for our feelings, which I touched on in the first part, not taking things personally can be really, really hard. After all, certain unpleasant words actions and reactions were specifically directed at us..of course it’s personal!
But, nothing any of us do is ever about other people—each of our external experience with the world around us is just one giant projection of what is going on inside. I believe it was the Four Agreements where I saw our experience likened to each of our lives being a movie, where we are the star and director, and everyone else– just the extras.
You know when you are having a bad day, and you just snap at people? In those moments you know that it has nothing to do with the other person, and it is simply because you are feeling crappy in that moment. Well, that is what is happening all the time, with everyone. Something within is triggering the things we say and do, and has nothing really at all to do with the person on the receiving end of our criticisms, moodiness, and what have you.
This is one of those truths that can take awhile to seep down into the level of feeling, but the deeper it goes, the more peaceful and easier life becomes.
So, that rude waitress might be struggling and failing miserably with another endeavor, and just simply hates her job. Your testy customer may be running on fumes because her mother with dementia has now adopted a completely wacky sleep schedule where she is up all night. Your family member sees you making choices she wishes she would have made, and now it is too late, so the only way to quell those uncomfortable feelings is finding fault with you.
When we take things personally, we suffer a lot. But, just remember, you are just an extra in the movie of everyone else’s life ,and we are all just living out our internal world. And because few of us are enlightened spiritual masters, it is easy to forget this, leaving us constantly wounded in one form or another. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Own Your Choices
Ultimately, we never have to do anything we don’t want to do. But, we do things we don’t want to do all the time, falsely believing we really have no other option. This is because we have very strong beliefs—which can always be changed if they are not serving us—regarding how we interact and handle other people, or doing what we would actually like to do seems so freaking uncomfortable, we just can’t bring ourselves to do it. It often feels so uncomfortable, we really don’t even see it as a viable option.
And, this makes for a lot of turmoil, internal and external, when it comes to dealing other people. We put up with things we don’t want to put up with and we don’t do the things that would make us feel better.
We worry doing what we would really like to do would hurt other people’s feelings, would open us up to criticism that we don’t want to hear, or make us seem mean, selfish or something else ‘bad.’ And so the suffering continues.
Listen, I totally get it. We don’t like making uncomfortable choices, because, well, they’re uncomfortable! We just can’t seem to muster up the courage to act. It’s your life, and you can proceed however you want.
But, if you’re not going to do what you really would like to do, own that you are making a choice. Accept you are choosing this course of action and actively deciding you are not doing what you really want to do. When we do this, we move away from a victim mentality where we feel that other people are controlling us, causing us to feel badly, ruining our good time or making us do things we don’t want to do.
So, if you are reluctant to tell the person yapping on her phone during the movie to shut her trap because confrontation with a stranger makes you uncomfortable, own it.
If you are so sick of your mother criticizing every aspect of your life, but you don’t’ feel comfortable showing her your vulnerable, hurt side because she is kind of a cold person, own it.
If you are keeping toxic family members in your life who causes you nothing but grief, but you can’t bring yourself to reject the idea you stick with family no matter what, own it.
If your needy neighbor is constantly asking you for favors, and you feel badly saying no, even though it is beginning to drive you crazy, own it.
There is a huge shift in energy when this happens. We don’t suffer as much because we realize we are taking an active role in handling the situation, even if it is not the way we truly want to handle it. Then you can begin developing strategies to cope with it better, rather than just getting swept up in these moments and feeling like you are being victimized in some way.
And at some point, hopefully you will decide to take action and stop doing things that make you feel badly. But, that can take some time, and this owning of our choices is a good first step in reducing all the ‘yuck.’
See What is Triggering Reactions and Go Within
None of us are excluded from the truth of our reactions to things having nothing to do with the other person. So, when you get all bent out of shape about something, it is because some sort of energy is being activated inside of you. So, this little tidbit kind of relates to what I was saying about not holding other people responsible for how we feel.
If we can accept this truth, and not resist it by continuing to blame other people for the reactions that get stirred up by their words and actions, we are presented with a tremendous opportunity to go within and see what is happening inside of us.
Now, this can be really uncomfortable because it often means examining our beliefs and decisions, and/or coming to terms with the truth that we may be really unhappy with certain aspect of our life, or that certain behaviors are really having a negative impact on us that is getting more and more difficult to ignore.
But, I can’t tell you how much it is worth it. We have all this ‘stuff’ inside of us that we just keep pushing down further and further, and this refusal to deal with it, screws with our life and happiness in countless ways.
Sure, on one hand, it certainly has its benefits. We get to protect ourselves from the pain that may come with facing truths that may be difficult to face. But, this certainly doesn’t make for a happy life because it is still stewing within, and it manifests itself in different ways. We are pretty good at going into denial mode, but we can’t deny completely, and on some level, we know what is really happening.
When we are open to this self-reflection, we transform in countless ways that not only makes us happier overall, but helps us deal more effectively with other people. It may help us release anger and resentments we carry. It may help us view people in a more favorable light, which reduces the friction and fighting. We get to know ourselves better, and this makes us less vulnerable when people criticize and judge us. We feel less inclined to defend ourselves, or prove other people wrong.
You’re Not Perfect, Don’t Expect Others to Be
None of us are perfect…no big revelations there. I’m not even sure what constitutes a perfect person. Anyway, even though we know this, we tend to be very unforgiving of others when they slight us in any way. We think, how dare they say or do that? Again, we take it very personally. We hold people to unrealistic standards, and when their own imperfect nature shines through in some way, we find it completely unacceptable.
But, take a moment to think about all your ‘flaws’ and all the things you may have done or said to other people that were maybe not so great. Think about what may have triggered those situations. You may have been lashing out because you felt hurt or out of control. Perhaps you were operating with some faulty beliefs. Maybe you were just having a bad day. In some cases, you were feeling a bit jealous, and in an effort to feel better, tried to make the other person feel badly about some aspect of her life.
Guess what? While us humans are very different from each other in lots of ways, we are also very much alike in countless others. If you can remember other people are just as ‘imperfect’ as you, that their negative words and actions ,are stemming from some sort of discomfort within, just like it does with you, you’ll be less bothered. You’ll be more understanding and forgiving. You won’t take things as personally. You will interact with them more effectively.
Put yourself in other people’s shoes, and try to think what would possibly make you act that way. This is one time in life where assuming can have its benefits. Remembering we all have our ‘stuff’ can totally change how we view others and the things they say and do.
So, that’s all I have to say this time around. Hope you enjoyed the post and walked away with at least one thing to chew on more thoroughly. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments. What people problems are you having now, and how are you trying to handle it better? Have you any techniques or ways of thinking that you would like to share here? Anything I wrote here stand out for you in particular? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.