Most of our waking moments we function on auto pilot and have learned knee jerk reactions to people and events around us. Haven’t you noticed that when ever person X walks in the room, and there is something about person X that you dislike, that you make the same assumption about this person every time you see him or her? For instance, perhaps you know in under 2 minutes they are going to complain about something, you just know it. Every time they complain about something, you find yourself listening. Yes, that’s right, you start listening. You listen because your guilty thoughts about disliking this person complaining, creates a listening hear, which, of course, opens the door to more complaining.
Instead of living a knee jerk reaction to people or situations that we find ourselves in, like the person who is taking their good old time driving 35 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone, we can establish an inner dialogue that makes us resistant to any, well almost any, situation that bothers us. And, it’s not that you won’t be bothered, you may, but the intensity, duration and degree of bothering will drop significantly.
How do you make yourself resistant to external forces, such as complaining people, destructive people, coercive, manipulative, victimizing and bullying people and events that are catastrophic, financially draining, upsetting, or annoying? The practice and invitation for you is to first, notice when you engage in these behaviors. For about a week observe how you interact with others, what you likely are to talk about, not talk about, listen attentively to, ignore, be put off by, or feel compassionate and caring about. Now, notice how you are received by others. Gently observe that when you select or engage in a dialogue what happens? Does the conversation flow, does it stop abruptly, is there a sense of equal exchange? Do you notice that you try to make yourself look like a victim, that you got over on someone, that you are critical of someone, or agree to share in criticism of someone?
When we observe ourselves, we are simply assessing, not judging or condemning. Recognize that you have developed a set of language patterns, or patterns that create a sense of safety, power, control and affiliation foremost. These are survival skills in the work place and in relationships. So, if we are doing this to others, now we can understand a bit more about how we set this in motion within our own lives.
For example, when there is a tragedy somewhere on the airways, a devastating crime, horrific natural disaster, we religiously want to find someone to blame, someone to pay for the crime, someone or something to alleviate the results of such an event. We also join a platform of agendas to change gun control, stop the government, help the victims, and all well intended.
It’s just that we could benefit from asking ourselves, who is in charge of my reaction to all of this? Why does my boyfriend’s insistence on cutting me off in every conversation bug the crap out of me? Who is in charge? Well, you and I are. We cannot possess the will of another and we sure as heck can’t expect someone else to conform to a standard of comfort that we set on their behavior, even though it would be super great if I could finish a sentence sometime in my lifetime.
How many times does someone do something, like leave the lid off the toothpaste, never fill up the gas tank after using it, complain about your habit of staying up too late, then operating like a zombie all day long.
Well, the truth is no one is in charge of you, but you. So, no matter what, you restore inner peace within you no matter what is happening around you. We focus on giving up what isn’t ours to being with, someone else’s behavior. What we do instead is find it within our hearts to accept that which we do not understand, cut through hostility that someone is bestowing upon you with a smile, understand that it is not your problem. You have choices in everything you do. However, your choices as mentioned earlier can foster an enabling pattern of discord by pretending to be interested, by pretending to be nice, just to get by and get out.
Creating an inner form of tranquility is not to stay that you do nothing. It is to say that you tell the truth. In the earlier story of the complainer, what can yo do to stop the complaining. 1) Tell yourself you won’t complain back, 2) Ask a question, 3) Change the topic to something life affirming. We have incredible power here to change any thing and all things by stopping the distractions to our inner peace.
Your aim is to calm the waters that wash against the shore. There are many waves that hit us in life. Stop and ask yourself, how big a deal is this? Is it worth my life energy in worry, anger, rebuttal, being right, being nice, conforming, resisting, you name it. Is it worth it? Then, ask yourself, who AM I? Yes, you must have a good understanding of who you are. It is easy to sway off course and react to other people reacting. We become experts at reacting to reacting. Isn’t that strange?
A case in point is that a coworker was sharing her upset with a family member who wouldn’t do something that she felt she needed to do. She was so upset that she couldn’t control the situation that she reacted by threatening to cut off the relationship. I listened and that’s all. I offered no solace, support, feedback or criticism. Through listening she worked out her own solution to collaborate her concerns and try to understand the perspectives of others’ within her group. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to practice non-reacting. I was able to keep my inner peace and balance because I chose to have no attachment to the outcome of anything. She had all the answers.
We have all the answers. Keeping our calm center inward, as this is where your true power resides, will allow you to deal with any oncoming, incoming, or downward spiraling external messes in life, and those folks who you seem to attract. Always remember everything you attract is an opportunity and say “thank you,” even though you can’t imagine thanking a police officer for giving you a ticket! The ticket slowed you down and you could spend hours telling your friends and your self how wronged you were, but that would be reacting to what already happened. Instead, take a few deep inhales and exhales and tell yourself that no matter what you control you, your feelings and actions, always.