A few evenings ago, a dear friend of mine called me as she was driving home, distraught and very angry about her work. She opened the conversation with “I had to call someone who can calm me down, so I called you. I’m so angry and I don’t know how to stop it. You seemed to have figured it out.”
I took that as a high compliment. By ‘figured it out’, I believe she meant that I have found a way to have calm, peace and joy in my life, and I know how to stop things from bothering me. I seldom get angry about other people, or things that happen in the workplace. But, have I indeed figured it out? Have I reached some kind of nirvana or enlightenment? I wouldn’t say ‘Yes’ by any stretch of the imagination, but I can say that I do feel a fairly steady sense of calm in my life, and apparently it shows as I hear this feedback often.
Here’s something I’ve heard from many people over the years “I know I shouldn’t be feeling x, but I just can’t help it.” Replace X with things like: anger because your employer doesn’t give you the respect you deserve, sick because your sister always says things that get under your skin, resentment because you are have to care for an aging parent and that makes you feel guilty because you are resentful… the reasons go on and on. Why can’t the world just cooperate with me?!!!?
I have learned to experienced life differently. It started by becoming very aware of how I am reacting and experiencing aggravating situations. Then I would ask myself things like: What causes this aggravation? Is it my ego? Is it my need to be right? Who’s to say what’s right and wrong, anyway – isn’t that a matter of opinion?
These are not light questions. It is truly challenging to describe this practice of thought in a blog post. But when I did take a step back from a situation to observe myself (not the other person or the situation), I was able to make a conscious decision as to the type of experience I wanted to have.
If you just can’t ‘shake off’ the negative feeling, I believe you either haven’t committed 100% to making the change within yourself OR you simply need the skills to help you change. Just knowing intellectually that you should change often isn’t enough.
There are many wonderful skills out there to learn. I would say that for me, learning meditation, mindfulness, Eckhart Tolle’s ‘A New Earth’ and some Buddhist teachings have helped me greatly.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t just fall over and allow people to take advantage of my calm nature. I still make the effort to right a wrong and speak my thoughts, BUT, I only do this to an extent that it matters – I don’t do it to appease my ego. When it becomes about my ego, I stop.
Here is a previous post about dealing with an irritating person.
I hope this is helpful to someone out there,