- Accept that we don’t have control over others. Most people are motivated by good intentions and even the rudest person probably feels his or her behavior is completely justified. But we often hold on to the hope that the individual will change—and we get upset when that doesn’t happen. Maya Angelou said “When someone shows you who they are, believe them—the first time.”Accepting that we have no control over another person’s behavior does not mean that we approve or that we have to allow ourselves to be abused. Accepting allows us to assess how we are affected so that we can then make changes needed. This is where a loving kindness meditation might be helpful.
- Take a step back. Sometimes everything can feel so immediate and right in your face. We have a hard time seeing the big picture or remembering that it’s a big universe. Taking time to connect with the expanse of our world can give us a little perspective and might open up other avenues for coping. For example, a meditation that guides your awareness to yourself, the room, the city, state, and continuing outward not only gives your mind a break from the intense emotion of a conflict but also reminds you that you are part of larger experience. You have control over what you want your life focus to be. You can’t avoid conflicts and emotional upset, but you can control how much energy and mindspace you’re going to rent to them.
- Allow for self-compassion. When we react emotionally to another person, we often make the situation worse by beating ourselves up for getting upset. “Why do I let him get to me?!” Your response is what it is. Allow yourself to be curious how you’re reacting. Stay in touch with your body—are you tightening up, clenching your jaw, breathing shallowly? Notice those things with compassion. A physical or emotional response is not a sign of weakness or failure—it’s simply information, data to help you determine how to deal with this situation or person.
Nancy Hall, MA, NCC, LPC is a staff therapist and the intake coordinator at The Awakening Center. In addition to seeing clients for individual therapy, she leads the weekly meditation group and co-leads the Somatic-Experience-Informed Trauma Healing Group. Check and subscribe out her blog “All Shapes and Sizes,” which appears on Chicago Tribune’s media partner ChicagoNow.com.