Monday, January 22, 2018

Dealing with different personalities

I recently had an experience with an individual who has a very different approach to life than myself. I think we all encounter these types from time to time. Probably we are sometimes that person for someone else without even noticing. Initially I went through a bunch of emotions that put the burden on the other person. I was a bit offended that the things they were doing annoyed me or made me uncomfortable.

My self-righteous first inclination is to tell that person how they should do things differently. My family jokingly teases me about this sense of judgement/justice. I am known to call out strangers for their bad behavior. I will tell someone that they cut me off in line. I have no qualms about that kind of thing. One story my family likes to recall is the time I chastised some foul mouthed teens who were using extremely vulgar language around my much younger brother Sam, who was just a kid then. Sure it can be funny, but it isn’t really helpful. I am pretty good at confronting without escalating the situation, but I could definitely just let fewer things annoy me. I could work to be more empathetic. I want to always consider the other person and where they are coming from. And if I can’t do that then I want to at least take a hard look at myself.  

So, back to this person who was pushing my buttons. I decided to calmly assess the situation. First I had to decide if they were trying to aggravate me on purpose. This person was not actually trying to drive me crazy. It was then that I realized that I was the problem. It was kind of a revelation for me. I had zero control over the other person. I did not want to confront them on their behavior as they were not trying to offend. So I had to ask myself some hard questions. Why was I so bothered? I was being uptight. Did I have to feel annoyed? No. Did my frustration help anything at all? Spoiler alert, it did not. I don’t want to be that person. 

Instead I decided to proceed with a different approach. Every time this person unintentionally hurt my feelings or whatever I would ask myself,”What am I learning about myself?” I didn’t try and make a mental list of all the ways they were wrong. I didn’t want to correct the person, or if they absolutely needed me to chime in for some reason that I did it from a neutral point of view. It was a revelation for me!

Since then I have been trying to focus myself on the real issue over which I have control, myself. 

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