“Moron, you’re coming in by the back door.” These words from a stranger were enough to spoil Dylan’s day. He’d just returned from a great week at the beach with his family, and on the last morning of their vacation, they would stop at the shopping mall. Dylan had been in a terrific mood before the incident. He spent the entire 4-hour car ride home angry, unable to let it go.
We have all dealt with folks who were rude towards us. It may be our boss’s chastisement or a driver’s impatience. Whatever the cause, these encounters seem to stick with us like a grating melody. The bitterness of our wrath and irritation is tasted every time we revisit the memories.
How can we avoid allowing other people’s bad behavior to ruin our day?
Acceptance is the first step. I don’t mean nodding your head in agreement with their conduct. Acceptance in this context refers to acknowledging that such things do happen in life. Humans act unjustly. Drivers act ignorantly. Colleagues at work upset us. Our refusal to believe they did it is a large part of the conflict that keeps us locked after these encounters. When you become aware of your resistance, let it go. Instead, say, “Of course they did.” People can be like that at times.”
Observe Your Anger
Being treated badly might lead to “meta-irritation.” We continue to hold on to our anger even though we are aware that lingering and pondering over the incident is futile. Sometimes it even creeps into our consciousness when we are making various attempts to stop thinking about it.
There’s a saying that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, but can be channeled to something else. Shifting your perspective rather than opposing what your mind is doing may be of great help.
Take a half-step back and notice anything you’re thinking or feeling. Take note of how fascinating your experience is: the physical sensations in your body and the thoughts and imaginations that are running through your head. Rather than entirely connecting with the anger and brooding, keep an eye on them.
To a considerable extent, your reactions have taken on a life of their own. Keep a curious and compassionate eye on them all. Allow them to accompany you as you go about your business.
Own Your Happiness
Many people tend to believe that their happiness depends on others. They believe that they would be happy if they were treated well, and feel the opposite if treated badly. In reality, however, other people’s actions are always about them, and our wellbeing doesn’t have to depend on what they do. You don’t have to tolerate any ill behavior from others. You also do not need to entrust your happiness to anyone else.
The trick is to decide to discover contentment within before something provokes us; if we wait until something provokes us, we’re already doomed. We might begin by deciding that for today, I am going to own my happiness rather than borrowing it from someone else. This choice affects not only how others treat us, but also how we live in general. Nothing outside of ourselves has the last say on whether or not we are doing okay. The ultimate superpower is the determination to choose your happiness.
Dealing with anger may be very difficult. However, understand that getting angry is a normal human emotion. Everyone gets angry at one point in time or another. The trick is about how one can effectively deal with anger when provoked.
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