From everyday rudeness to outright prejudice, as frustrating as these things are, we cannot let our experience of them trigger us to the point that we lose ourselves by how we respond.
You probably hear people explain away bad behavior all the time with the “They triggered me” excuse. You get the sense that they truly believe they had no control over their response. And we see videos of midair meltdowns where people resort to physical violence and probably wonder why those people couldn’t control their behavior.
If I were you, I would use these news stories as teachable moments for ourselves. For example, I’ve thought of how I would respond if someone were to call me the N-word. I’ve wondered whether I would give in to anger and how much I might let that anger control me. If I was feeling bad about myself or under a lot of stress, do I have it in me to push a bigot from a moving train?
I think about such things and I think we should all be asking ourselves what’s the thing that could push us over the edge.
We can train ourselves to think critically and act emotionally intelligent under stressful situations by learning how to deal with everyday rudeness and bad behavior better.
Here is what I mean.
From traffic delays to poor weather, letting everyday inconveniences cause you stress is just poor self-regulation. To help you get a different perspective and understand why it's in your best interest not to get upset when they happen, I'd like to share a personal anecdote. It taught me that sometimes, getting lost can be a good thing!
It was a rainy day. My then-husband and I were on vacation with just a few days to soak us some sun and great weather before heading back to New York. We had made and were looking forward to certain sightseeing plans that the rain made impossible to enjoy since they were all outdoors. We were disappointed and like little kids, started getting on each other's nerves. Anyway, we were out and the best plan we came up with was to find a pub, have a few drinks, and wait out the rain. Some five hours later, and about four and a half hours after the rain had stopped, we were still in the pub chatting and having a great time with three new friends we made. That day turned out to be one of our favorites because instead of staying upset, we decide to make the best of things as they were.
Since then, I’ve approached everyday delays and situations like these as possible opportunities. It's this perspective, more than anything else, that keeps me calm when things like these happen. The point is, in the majority of situations, it's our perspective that's driving our response. With this new perspective, over and over, I'm rewarded for keeping my cool and approaching delays as potential opportunities. Just the other day, I took the wrong exit on a highway and found a home goods store, I would have never known was there.
Do this: The next time you’re lost or inconvenienced by nature or something outside your control, roll with it. Who knows what you might find? Something else that will help you keep your calm is to give yourself enough time to get to your destination. When you have some time cushion, delays won't cause you as much stress. And when you're usually on time, you won't worry as much about showing up late if that's how a stressful situation turns out.
Dwelling on the negative
The ruminating mind likes to dwell because it thinks that’s helping. A good way to break the habit is to give yourself limits for how long you dwell on certain things. Milk expires and so should complaints.
Do this: Start a gratitude practice. And at the end of your day as you’re giving thanks, include that negative experience that you might still be working yourself up about. Consider what the experience might have to teach you. Maybe the lesson in it is that you still need to work on your patience or your communication skills. And the lesson could be that you have some wounds that need your attention.
Not budging and refusing to forgive your offenders may seem like payback but unless you were close or meant a lot to the person, chances are, you’re the only one thinking about the grudge.
Do this: Learn to say your piece to preserve your peace. Quite often, I would even go so far as to say most of the time, the reason we’re still up in our feels weeks and months after a painful or hurtful experience is that we didn’t get closure. When we don’t know how to state our hurt or when we feel silenced, we don’t know what to do with our anger so we hold grudges. One of the greatest life skills any of us can learn is how to give people a piece of our minds without losing our humanity and self-respect.
Holding onto old ideas
Religion and cultures are often slower to evolve than people. Look at the catholic church and its view on homosexuality and abortion. The same goes for your own sexual hangups and anything you feel shame and guilt about.
Do this: Re-examine any issue you feel guilt and shame about and question why you do. Chances are, they’re based on old ideas. Because old ideas are built into our subconscious, it will take time to rid yourself of them but it can when you do the work. That can be done by doing a variety of things including self-hypnosis and doing research to understand how an idea got incorporated into a certain space in the first place.
As you work with us over at Vurb Wellness, you will learn by doing wellness. With assignments and activities we design, we teach you how to stress less, protect your sanity and mental wellness, and become fit in key areas of your life.