Sometimes, people just frustrate us.
Whether it’s your brother, sister, mother, father, partner, coworker, boss, or someone else altogether, as creatures who depend on our social interactions, it’s inevitable to occasionally feel annoyed or frustrated with people.
The frustration could stem from a disagreement, a misunderstanding, or an unwillingness for one party to consider how the other feels, but in the end, it’s all the same: you’re frustrated and annoyed.
The unfortunate part about all this is that your frustration isn’t going to affect them at all, it’s just going to bounce right back and bite you in the ass. Every. Single. Time.
So, it’s important to know how to deal with these feelings when they arise, otherwise, you’ll just end up hurting yourself. Good thing, though, that there’s a very simple practice for helping you deal with situations just like this.
All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for… reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration.
– Casey Stengel
A few years back, I was experiencing a similar situation and decided to combine something I had learned in my time meditating with a little contemplative exercise.
The next time someone annoys or frustrates you, follow these three very simple steps:
1. Find space
First, take a moment to imagine yourself shooting off into an empty space to a nice little area where just you can reside. No one is there to bother you; no one is there to pester you. This is your own little space that no one can disturb. You’re safe in this little mental oasis.
2. View the real picture
Now that you’ve found some space, take a moment to contemplate the fact that your frustration is coming from your own perception of events and nothing else.
Everything we do and experience is done through a filter. That filter includes things such as our bias, preconceived notions, expectations, and generally what’s filling our mind at that particular moment.
These are all things that can skew our perception of a situation, so take a moment to realize that your frustration is really coming from your interpretation and perception of that person and their actions, not necessarily what is really going on.
3. Contemplate the cause
Think back to what happened. Why did it happen? Do you really know all the underlying factors? Or is there something you might not have taken into consideration? Maybe the person is under extra stress for something they haven’t told you, or they’re in pain and don’t want to open up about it so they lash out at others over their own frustration.
We often go about life acting as if we have all the facts, when we can very rarely see the entire picture. So, take a minute to think of a few possibilities. Even if they’re not necessarily true, think of possible reasons why the conflict might have happened that you didn’t consider before.
Once you’re done, you’ll typically feel relieved and more at peace than you were before. You still won’t necessarily have an answer, but by stepping back and brainstorming possibilities for a moment, you will be able that so many more scenarios than the one you initially played through your head are possible. And, by doing so, your frustration and annoyance disappear.
There are a million and one different reasons why we come into conflict with others. And, often, we don’t fully understand all the factors that cause it — even though we think we do.
The next time you end up frustrated or annoyed with another person, take a moment to step back and do this simple exercise. It won’t just help you deal with the frustration within yourself, it will help you mend any potential damage in the relationship as well.