Have you ever been in a situation when someone argued a point so passionately, that you felt they wouldn’t ever budge from that decision? They were so adamant that for one minute, you wouldn’t even entertain the possibility that they would change their mind. They were so convincing that you thought their behaviour would be firmly based on this point of view and that nobody would ever witness them doing anything contrary to what they’d said.

You get the point…

But one day, they did just that! I am one of those people!

How could they have said all of that and then changed their mind?

I recall being in a very different place until recently, and I’m so glad it’s changed!

I remember a family member telling me that nobody should buy washer dryers, for a number of reasons. They were so anti-washer dryers, I was shocked to later find that they owned one.

I recall witnessing one person feeling offended when her brother put dishes in the dishwasher after rinsing them. She argued with him saying that he needed to let the dishwasher do some work, otherwise he was wasting water, energy, time and it made using the dishwasher pointless. He was adamant that the dishwasher wouldn’t cope with dirty dishes, and that it would breakdown if he did what she did. He now does the same!

I remember being told that this new mobile phone network was amazing, so I got a SIM and gave up within minutes of ordering it. I somehow ordered too many, there was no phone number or email address to try and cancel them. There were members’ forums, but it didn’t sit right with me at all! Anyone who asked me for my opinion on networks, clearly heard that I wouldn’t recommend this one if they wanted to have the ability to speak with a human to sort things out. Guess what? Yesterday I ordered a SIM from that same company!

Another occasion that springs to mind is when a few of us went out to dinner. A couple of the people in the group started quoting statistics about the benefits of going vegetarian. They were sharing information about the environment, health, animals and more. I don’t even think anyone had asked them. Either way, once they started, they didn’t let up. Those same people are no longer vegetarian.

What made them eat their own words?

In scenario one, they moved into a home which didn’t have enough space for a separate washing machine and dryer so they purchased a washer dryer.

In the second example, he got into a relationship with someone who explained the technology behind dishwashers, and how they are designed to cope with bits of food. He accepted this and started putting the dirty dishes in without rinsing them and never looked back!

In the third example, we moved home and my phone went from having fabulous reception, to very patchy network coverage. EE and Three aren’t much better so I’ve now signed up with the ‘non-human’ network! The tariff is good, the cost isn’t bad, and if I need help with anything I can ask my hubby Suraj, as he’s with them already.

The final example is a bit tricky. These individuals are quite fickle, so even though they may seem to have a firm belief and appear to be driven and passionate about it; it doesn’t last long. It’s just the way they are.

Should I ever expect anyone to mean what they say?

This may seem a bit daft, but I’ve found that it is easier, safer, compassionate and realistic to accept what people say in the moment that they say it, but realise that things change, and how they feel, or what they do, may differ as a result.

It isn’t that nobody ever means what they say.
It isn’t that nobody sticks to what they’ve said.
It isn’t that people shouldn’t speak unless they know that they firmly mean something and won’t ever change their mind.

Nothing is permanent. How we feel, what we have, what we don’t have, the things we need, the things we can do without, who we look up to, who we clash with, and more. Things change all the time, but we don’t have to be affected by any of these things. We can strive to be the witness, to be equanimous, to be untouched by the ever changing world which is ‘outside ‘of us. We can keep an eye on, and control what’s within us. We can strive to ensure that nothing and nobody affects our peace of mind. I have been told that, if we master that, everything will be smooth and full of joy.

Have you ever come across a situation and wondered why it’s a big deal? Why can’t they just suck it up and get on with it?

Dismissing how someone feels

Recently, I’ve realised how easy it is to dismiss other people’s feelings, and make what they’re experiencing appear insignificant. I have witnessed and felt some of the following consequences: –

  • I felt that my feelings weren’t important
  • I doubted whether I was being petty
  • I felt judged
  • I felt daft
  • I began to believe that my thoughts and feelings were irrelevant
  • I questioned whether what I was feeling was trivial
  • I ended up feeling worthless, inadequate and inferior

I have been guilty of thinking that someone is making a mountain out of a molehill, and that they should just get on with it. However, I have recently realised how destroying it can be.

Suck it up and get on with it!

Here’s a few examples that I’ve come across

  • Mariam is pregnant and unwell. Mary hears about this and says ‘pregnancy isn’t an illness, she needs to stop acting as if it is!’
  • Fred is off work because he is suspected of having Tuberculosis. One of his friends commented that he shouldn’t be off, because his nails and hair look good, and this wouldn’t be the case wouldn’t if he had TB.
  • Kalpa took over teaching a class whose regular teacher was on leave. She tried really hard to work in a way which meant she didn’t have to sit at the teacher’s desk, but she needed it for various reasons. She hesitantly re-organised it so that it was functional for her. Upon his return, Tim, the regular teacher, commented that she should have got on with it and left the desk as it was.
  • James complained about having to mow the lawn and weed the driveway. Michael couldn’t see what the fuss was about, and he told him that! He yearned to have a garden and wouldn’t complain about such things.
  • Aashi can’t take being in a cluttered environment. It takes a lot of effort for her to quietly endure it when she’s in someone else’s home. However, when she’s in her own home, she cannot rest until it’s neat and tidy. When she asked Suresh, (her brother), to put things back in their ‘designated’ place, he told her that she was being neurotic, unreasonable and needed to let it go.

When do you lack empathy?

Can you recall of a time when you were so ‘in your own head’, that you lacked empathy for someone else?

Can you think of a time when your expectations, understanding or definition, of what one should be able to do or ignore, blinded you from recognising that we’re not all the same?

Can you recall how you felt when you thought they should suck it up and get on with it?

  1. Did it make you angry or frustrated?
  2. Did you end up laughing at the other person?
  3. Did the negativity cause a tightness or some other form of tension, somewhere in your body?
  4. Did you end up complaining about how the other person was behaving?

Put yourself in their shoes…

Can you now put the shoe on the other foot, and think of a time when you couldn’t get passed something and those around you just couldn’t understand where you were coming from. They may have reacted in one of the ways listed above, or you may have experienced something different. Either way, did you feel good or were you left feeling some form of hurt?

My aim: what I can do differently

An interim measure is that I need to find a way to force a gap between seeing something, having an internal reaction to it, and expressing that reaction in some way. If I could do that, I could catch myself and prevent expressing the judgment I’ve made. This isn’t ideal, but it’s a step in the right direction.

My aim would be to stop judging altogether. I think like would be so much more peaceful for me and those around me.

What can I do if I can’t see passed the emotion?

If I am in a state and can’t see passed the anger/hurt/frustration maybe I could try some of the following strategies:-

  • just myself out of the situation
  • remove myself from situations where others are backbiting
  • create opportunities to spot what’s good, to be grateful, to think more positively
  • use some form of exercise to get it out of my system e.g. go for a walk or do some yoga
  • find ways to calm the mind, perhaps through meditation

Could this be the phrase that saves us and everyone we meet?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
– Ian MacLaren

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