Let’s face it… it’s not easy being so easy-going all the time. We have every intention to be, but then our friend is late to our lunch date, or our partner is short with us on the phone, or we get stuck in traffic on the way to picking the kids up. Who wouldn’t get frustrated or angry in these types of situations?
Well, here’s a golden piece of advice which a teacher of ours once gave us that we’ve been using ever since. Each time you find yourself experiencing unpleasant emotions around an issue (eg. frustration/anger/upset), consider whether it is the issue itself which is the problem, or whether it’s actually your issue with the issue that is in fact to blame.
Now we know it’s a bit of a tongue twister, so here’s our step-by-step process for how we would handle one of the above examples using his approach:
- Something unexpected happens; our friend is late to our lunch date, or our partner is short with us on the phone, or we get stuck in traffic on the way to picking the kids up. This is the objective reality.
- Unpleasant emotions and thoughts arise as a result; We take it to mean that our friend doesn’t respect us, or our partner doesn’t care about us, or we’re simply bad parents. This is our subjective reality.
- We consider whether we might have fused our subjective reality with our objective reality and then attempt to separate them. Are we upset because our friend is late or because we have taken it to mean that they don’t respect us? i.e. is it the issue at hand, or our issue with the issue that is the problem.
- We dig deeper to discover the true reason for why we might be getting upset. Are we lacking empathy for others and/or ourselves? Are we taking things too personally? Do we need to work on our own time management skills? Are we simply tired or hungry?
- We recognise that we can’t change what is, so we accept our present situation and learn any key lessons for the future based on our previous inquiry.
- Now we embrace the bonus time we have to ourselves and use it as an opportunity to do something useful: reply to emails, call mum, meditate etc.
It requires both practice and patience, but it’s well worth the effort in the end! Good luck 🙂