You Are Responsible For Your Emotions
Don’t allow others to influence the way you feel
When I was growing up my my dad would get upset by other drivers. My mom would respond to his frustration by saying:
That person woke up this morning and decided today they were going to piss you off.
This always made the situation worse. But, her point was valid.
She was attempting to put the situation in perspective. Other people aren’t trying to upset us on purpose. We upset ourselves by letting the situation dictate how we feel. Although we control our own thinking, we let others control our emotions.
If someone or something makes us upset it’s because we’re letting it affect us. People aren’t actually out to get you, unless they are.
So now you understand and no one will frustrate you! You will always be jovial and happy! Bullshit.
Understanding that your mindset is making you frustrated is good. But, it won’t change the way you feel when a bad situation arises. Rather than getting upset, use these two tricks and everyone involved will be happier. Keep in mind, changing perspective doesn’t happen overnight.
Taking the Blame
Don’t blame others
Have you ever noticed you’re the victim in every bad situation? Even evil people think they’re the victim.
As humans, it’s easy to place blame on others. Seth Godin says that even if the complaint is valid, it isn’t helpful:
If you buy my product but don’t read the instructions, that’s not your fault, it’s mine.
If you read a blog post and misinterpret what I said, that’s my choice, not your error.
If you attend my presentation and you’re bored, that’s my failure.
If you are a student in my class and you don’t learn what I’m teaching, I’ve let you down.
It’s really easy to insist that people read the friggin manual. It’s really easy to blame the user/student/prospect/customer for not trying hard, for being too stupid to get it or for not caring enough to pay attention. Sometimes (often) that might even be a valid complaint. But it’s not helpful.
If we blame others, we immediately put them on the defensive. Look at the situation from the their point of view: They think someone else (you) is the problem too.
As humans we hate being wrong. We don’t want to be wrong and when we are, we don’t want to admit it. It’s embarrassing and we’re afraid of it.
To be happier, just admit you’re wrong. Even if you’re not. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
Don’t worry. Even if you aren’t to blame you won’t need to convince others. They’ll agree with you. If someone else admits they’re wrong, we jump on that band wagon fast.
But, why would you admit you’re wrong, even when you’re right?
Because being right doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is accomplishing the task at hand. As long as you’re moving forward, who cares if you make a few mistakes along the way?
Let Others Know Our Perspective
Ramit Sethi bought a jacket and forgot about it for a few months. When he wore the jacket he realized it was to big. He took the jacket to the store and asked them to alter it. He became frustrated when they wouldn’t do alterations unless he paid for them. Then he recognized what was going on:
I thought I was mad at the store policy… but I was really mad at myself. I had all these thoughts in my head (“I’m a good customer… they should pick up the tab… they should reward customer loyalty”)… but I hadn’t said ANY of these things to the woman at the shop!
He continues by saying to resolve the situation, we just need to tell people about our situation and how we feel.
People aren’t mind readers and the only way to get what we want is by making others aware of our situation. We need to show them how it’s beneficial to them.
Here are some common situations that upset me and how I deal with them:
- A neighbor playing loud music — They’re having a great time. But, I need to wake up early in the morning. Rather than screaming at them to turn it down, I say, I’d love to join their party, but, I need to get up early in the morning. Then I ask them when’s the next party, showing them I’m not a party pooper.
- Someone denting my car — The easiest to deal with. Material possessions should be treated as material possessions. Things get messed up over time. Car damage isn’t a big deal and it’s replaceable.
- Someone littering — I pick up the trash. I’ve done a good deed today!
- Someone on the road cuts me off —They didn’t do it on purpose. I remember the time I cut someone off and how bad I felt about it. I assume they feel the same. Even if they don’t, why do I care how they feel?
You always perceive things from your point of view, since, the only perspective you have is your own. But, your perspective screws with you. Other’s aren’t to blame for the way you feel. You are. Blame yourself. Other people think you’re the problem anyway. So agree with them.
Originally published as “You’re the Problem” at bretthard.in.