HOW TO REMAIN CALM WHEN PEOPLE YOU LOVE DRIVE YOU NUTS
As we enter the holiday season, remember, in our personal relationships calmness is a God-given superpower…
Over the past decade, there’s a way of being I’ve gradually been cultivating in myself—I’ve been taming my tendency to get snap and argue with people I care about when their behavior doesn’t match my expectations.
As human beings, we all have an idea in our heads about how things are supposed to be, and sadly this is what often messes our relationships up the most. We all get frustrated when things don’t play out the way we expect them to, and people don’t behave like they’re “supposed” to. We expect our spouses and children to act a certain way, our friends to be kind and agreeable, neighbors to be less difficult, and so on and so forth.
And when reality hits us, and these people we care about seem to be doing the opposite of what we want them to do, we overreact—anger, frustration, stress, arguments, tears, etc.
So what can we do about this?
Stretch… and think better.
You can’t control how other people behave. You can’t control everything that happens to you. What you can control is how you respond to it all. In your response is your power.
When you feel like your lid is about to blow, take a moment and stretch—reach for the sky. Stretching releases tension, calms down our fight or flight reactions, and allows us to quiet our anxious nerves so we choose more considerate and constructive responses, no matter the situation.
So, for example, do your best to stretch it out next time before entering a shared space with a family member who frustrates you. In a recent poll we conducted with our most recent Think Better, Live Better 2020 event attendees, dealing with family-related disagreements was the most commonly cited reason for overreacting on a daily basis. Just imagine how much more peaceful certain households would be if everyone stretched and calmed their nerves before defaulting to sly remarks and rude gestures.
There’s no doubt that it can drive us nuts when we don’t get what we expect from people we care about, especially when they are being rude and difficult. But trying to change the unchangeable, wanting these people to be exactly the way we want them to be, just doesn’t work. The alternative, though, is unthinkable to most of us: to stretch, to let go, to lead by example, and to accept them even when they irritate us.
Here’s the way of being that I’ve been cultivating and advocating:
- To stretch daily, and often.
- To remind myself that I can’t control other people.
- To remind myself that the people I love or care about can handle their lives differently.
- To not take their behavior too personally.
- To see the good in them even when they frustrate me.
- To let go of the ideals and expectations I have about them that causes unnecessary frustration, arguments, and bouts of sadness.
- To remember that when the people closest to me are being difficult, they are often going through a difficult time I don’t fully understand. And to give them empathy, love and space.
“Being” this way—THINKING BETTER—takes practice, but it’s worth it. It makes us less frustrated. It helps us to be more mindful, improves our important relationships, lowers stress, and also allows us to make the world a more peaceful and productive place.