It’s a frequent thing to become frequently annoyed by other folks — included with our regular interactions with family, friends, and coworkers are the online habits of people on various social networking, plus they can all irritate the hell out of us.
So what can we do when other folks are being annoying, frustrating, inconsiderate, irritating, even aggravating?often the best practice is an inner shift instead of trying to alter the other person’s behaviorClick To Tweet
Well, assuming we’re not in tangible danger and we don’t require action to protect ourselves … often the best practice is an inner shift instead of trying to alter the other person’s behavior.
That suggestion in itself can be frustrating for some — why must change our own behavior when it’s the other person who’s aggravating?
That’s because, with one particular shift, you can be happy with anyone. But if you try to change every other person, you’re just going to be miserable.
This is illustrated by a metaphor from legendary Buddhist teacher Shantideva:
Where would there be leather enough to cover the entire world? With just the leather of my sandals, it is as if the whole world were covered. Likewise, I am unable to restrain external phenomena, but I shall restrain my own mind. What need is there to restrain anything else?
Within this metaphor, suppose the surface of the Earth was covered in shards of glass or some other sharp surface … You could attempt to find a covering for the entire world so that you could walk in comfort and ease … but you’d never have the ability to do it. Instead, just cover your own personal feet, and you can walk around perfectly.
This is actually the idea of shifting your personal mindset to enable you to deal with irritating people.
Let’s look at an exercise to work on that shift.
A Simple Practice
Whenever you are annoyed by how somebody else is behaving … first, realize that your brain starts to produce a story of resentment about them. It’s about how exactly they always act in this irritating way, or why have they got to be like that, or what makes them so inconsiderate, etc.
This story isn’t helpful. It makes you unhappy, it worsens your relationship with other people, it makes you a person you most likely don’t want to be.
And so the practice would be to drop that story, and as an alternative try this:
Know that you don’t like how a person is behaving. You aren’t happy with your present experience. In this manner, you might be rejecting this part of reality, rejecting an integral part of life. Consider opening up to all of life, without rejecting.
Think about a river that runs downstream … envision wanting it could flow upstream. It would just provide you with unhappiness to wish that the river had been different than it was. Now imagine that this other person is the river. Wishing they were different just delivers unhappiness.
See them as they are and open your heart for them, just as they are. Notice them like a suffering individual, with flaws and habitual ways of acting that may be irritating, but are actually very human. How can you love humankind just as it is?
Open up to all of life, without rejecting. Accept the river as it is. See the suffering human being in front of you, and love them fiercely, as they are.
See how it shifts you. And see how it opens you up to connect with your fellow human beings, and the vast experience of life, just as it is.