Another valuable lesson taught to me by my dad..
Every time I complained about someone or something to my dad, or my mood was sour because of something someone did, he would turn it around and question me. “Why is it that this person only affects you this way. If he/she were really that way, everyone would dislike them”. I also developed my arguing technique over the years and debated that ‘the person had different interactions with their parents and family so obviously they wouldn’t be affected in the same manner’. Well, that’s all well and good, but it still doesn’t account for all the other people that don’t mind being around them.
Alright, hard to win that one.
So, his point was not to say that you have to be in love with everyone, and never have any hard feelings against anyone. One would have to be a saint for that and that takes too many years of practice in isolation to be!
He was trying to explain to me that if this person’s words or actions were affecting me in this manner, and I wanted to change that, then there were 2 factors — their behavior and mine. There was absolutely no control I had on them, so that left some work to be done on myself.
One needs to understand that they have very little to no control over people and their surroundings. So, one needs to give up the hope of always giving someone their piece of mind in order to change how you feel.
We discuss this sometimes in our meditation group, and everyone’s perspectives are interesting. This seems to be a goal that most of us share — to not let others affect us by making us agitated, angry and ruining our day.
“I gave way to this person who was cutting me in traffic today because if I didn’t it would cause a lot more hassle to everyone else”
“I smiled at this person who I would have normally gotten mad and yelled at because of what they did, and it felt weirdly right!”
“I gave them metta (loving kindness) when that was definitely not what was on my mind”
It doesn’t work all the time, I think it is a skill that can be honed over time for interacting with most people. And then there are some that no matter what you do, can still get on your nerves. If it gets to a level where you are surrounded by people who you are not happy to be around, then it may be time to get yourself out of that environment or away from it. A slightly tweaked version of the technique would work for these — keep your distance and don’t let them affect you. You should not let it change who you are as a person, or affect your confidence or personality.
But at all other times, keep calm and smile 🙂