As I enjoyed my mid-day coffee because yes, that is when I woke up today (thanks Lamictal), I was having some wonderful racing thoughts about multiple things that pissed me off. After I started my day, I reflected on those thoughts and had another a-ha moment. Like 80% of those situations consisted of moments that I read into far to deeply, let bother me when they should have not or I personalized. I’m sure I had accountability in the remaining 20% but hey, 80% is pretty good, am I right?
When I was in my mid-20s, engaged to a horrible person that blamed the world for everything that went wrong in his life, I can recall screaming at him during one of our fights that when everything in his life is someone else’s fault, it was time to look at himself and realize that most of the time it isn’t them, it’s you. I walked away from that argument with a horrible feeling in my stomach because I started to absorb my own words. Maybe that coworker wasn’t out to get me by sending emails with higher ups on copy. That guy on I-95 didn’t want to run me off the road, maybe he was just an impatient person late for work. My world was rocked.
Since then, I often reflect on these moments, mostly after the fact, and try to view them at all angles. Did I have responsibility in the issue, could I be making things worse with my over analyzing, could I just be in a frame of mind that makes me hate the world and that poor guy who looked at me the wrong way at the wrong moment is about to get the shit end of my fury stick?
I’ll admit, doing this type of reflection is hard. It’s hard to take something you view as a definite and question the reality of the situation. I’ll toot my own horn and say that as time has passed, I’ve become better at this practice. But doing this is hard work and however your brain works, this practice will meet with a lot of resistance.
Start small. Maybe the cashier at the grocery store wasn’t judging your grocery purchases. Perhaps he/she was just treated like crap for the 20th time that day by some jerk who sees her as just a cashier at the grocery store and not a hard working person, putting up with long hours on their feet. So instead of taking her short manner and scowling face personally, give them the benefit of the doubt, smile, thank them and be on your way. You might be the only customer to treat them as a person their whole shift.
Some people can’t get a handle on this way of thinking. It doesn’t make them any less of a person. My husband struggles with doing this and is only successful when he is suffering from guilt. Doing this is hard and takes time. Your brain has spent so many years surviving this way, undoing it will take time…..sometimes a lot of time.
So the next time some guy is driving up behind you on the highway at a crazy speed and you think not moving will teach him a lesson, just remember there are crazier people than you out there and you don’t know his/her story. You are worth more than the few seconds of satisfaction watching his softly curse you out in your rear view mirror.
Granted, there are times that it IS then. For example, my mother and father in law. Thy suck. If an issue arises, it will always be them. ALWAYS.