Do you have annoying people in your life? A boss, a co-worker, a family member? Of course you do. I want to share with you a simple practice so you can feel empowered in difficult situations.
In the book The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama, His Holiness writes, “The enemy is the necessary condition for practicing patience. Without an enemy’s action, there is no possibility for patience or tolerance to arise. Our friends do not ordinarily test us and provide the opportunity to cultivate patience; only our enemies do this. So, from this standpoint we can consider our enemy as a great teacher, and revere them for giving us this precious opportunity to practice patience”
We can consider our “enemy” as anyone who we lose our patience with: our children, our spouse, our boss or the person who cuts us off on the highway. It is safe to assume that we all have plenty of great teachers around us all day long.
When I read the above quote from His Holiness The Dalai Lama, I realized how many great teachers I have… especially my adorable little girls at dinner time. It is rarely an easy event unless I am serving the one dish no one complains about: pasta. Unfortunately, children require to be fed 3 times a day, every day and therefore I am given many opportunities to practice my patience.
After dinner last night, my daughter Sophie was really taking me to the patience gym. I got worn down and eventually lost my cool and yelled “Sophie, that’s it!” She put her head down and started crying. We finally got through it and after dinner I took her aside and we sat down to talk about what happened. I asked her why she was refusing and acting so defiant, and she replied, “When you speak to me with mean words I just want to cry.” I asked what I could do so that we could both work this out, and she said, “Just speak to me nicely.” I said sorry she said “I am sorry too. Do you forgive me?” “Yes, I forgive you, let’s be nicer to each other,” I said.
Now, I am not a child psychologist, nor do I believe this is the end with our dinner struggles but what I do notice is that when I am calm she is calm and when I reprimand without the aggression, it turns out much better for all of us.
5 Steps to Unhooking Yourself from Frustration or Anger Towards Others:
- Recognize this feeling as your teacher, your worthy opponent and your opportunity to learn to set yourself free from old conditioning of getting worked up.
- If you can, sit down and really tune into the strong feelings in your body and what those feelings make you want to do: yell, blame, hit, eat, hide or quit.
- Place your hand on your heart and take 3 long conscious breaths.
- Think of the person that’s annoying you and imagine beaming love and kindness to that person. If you can’t find the love, just think of a light beam from your heart to theirs.
- Once the feelings soften, you will be able to make a better decision about what to do next.
Take a moment to think about the people in your life that are your current teachers. Ask yourself, how do you normally react when you are triggered by people that annoy you? Do you slander, gossip, give the evil eye, act aggressively towards that person and or other people in our life? If so, how much does it affect your relationships, your quality of life, your health and your happiness?
Is it the way you really want to be?
Would it be worth it to you to be able to handle tough situations with more patience?
Then try to use my 5 steps once a day for 7 days and pay attention to the results. One of my students took this on with a very challenging boss this week and found that it made a tremendous difference. I use it often and can attest with great confidence that it is helping me be a better parent.