“Difficult and unpleasant as it may be, we often feel the most hostile to those who remind us of aspects of ourselves that we prefer not to see” —Tony Schwartz & James Loehr, The Power of Full Engagement.
The next time you are annoyed with someone, ask yourself the simple question, “How am I that?”.
The way you feel about an interaction is often a reflection upon how you feel about yourself. Has someone been rude, judgemental, or treated you unkindly? When you ask yourself “how am I that?” (even if it was just a thought that you never acted upon). will provide you with the mental space to respond to the “annoyer” with grace.
It’s inevitable that people will annoy you throughout the day. The only remedy (other than avoiding them which should never be your first option) is to assume your interaction partner has good intentions. It’s never a good idea to assume malicious intent when it’s just as easy to assume ignorance or incompetence. After all, in 99% of your interactions, you’ll find that the other person is too self-absorbed that they don’t even consider how their behavior affects you.
We can’t directly change other people, so we might as well go to work on ourselves. Knowing this, our best reaction when we are challenged by our interpersonal relationships is to take a deep breath and change our perception. Suffering = pain x resistance. If we want to reduce our suffering we need to limit our anger and frustration to the stimulus we can’t control. For example, It’s not the snake bite that kills you, it’s moving around afterward that elicits the poison to spread through your bloodstream. To continue with the analogy, getting angry or frustrated is like taking a poison tablet, and hoping the person that you’re interacting with gets sick. A good example of this is an episode of road rage. Do you think screaming at a poor driver will improve their driving skills or even negatively affect their mood? Doubtful. You’re the one who is upset. Reflecting on this the moment another agitates you will help you flip the switch into being the best version of yourself the moment you feel
Q: Think of someone you dislike?
What qualities in that person do you find objectable?
Ask yourself, “how am I that?”