Are you still stressed out over something that happened last week?
Holiday periods often bring extended family into our lives. Routines are changed, and people are thrown together 24/7, so, it’s no wonder some feathers can get ruffled.
Here’s the thing. You may have had expectations of how things would go. And when they didn’t go that way, you got upset.
This is just human nature, although you can make it easier on yourself — especially if you’re still experiencing aftershocks.
One of my favorite mantras for creating peace in my life is, “Everyone is doing the best they can with what they know at the time.”
Put down that gavel
Someone else’s “best” may be different from yours. That doesn’t mean they’re out to sabotage you, though. You could still be seething over something that was said or done over the holiday week, and it’s only hurting you.
This is where it can get tricky. You certainly don’t want to have recurrences of a behavior that is damaging. And, in some cases, corrective action is needed.
More often than not, though, you may be a prisoner in your own mind. Are you taking things personally, making assumptions and judging those around you?
“Being critical and judgmental never works, feels good or leads me to what I truly want in my relationships and in my life,” says author and speaker Mike Robbins.
“We look for what’s wrong and critically judge those around us and ourselves ... instead of bringing a sense of understanding and acceptance into the most important (and often most challenging) situations and relationships in our lives.”
People aren’t generally out to get us. When you spend time ruminating and going over and over a situation, though, it may feel this way.
Back to the mantra — with an added twist: “Everyone is doing the best they can with what they know at the time and the resources they have. If they knew better, they’d do better.”
The emotional toolbox
Here are some tips, gleaned from Robbins as well as my life experiences, to create more peace in your life:
- Don’t take things personally. Too often in life, we take things personally that have nothing to do with us. You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think about you if you realized how little they actually do. The truth is, most people are focused on themselves.
Of course, you don’t want to tolerate people treating you in harmful ways. In these cases, you need to speak up. In most cases, though, when you stop taking things so personally, you liberate yourself from being needlessly upset. And wallowing in your misery.
- Don’t make assumptions. When something happens, do you automatically jump to conclusions? You could stop a lot of endless worry if you catch yourself before going down this rabbit hole.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt. Most of the time, those around us have good intentions. When you take a step back and quit giving your energy to proving yourself right — and others wrong — you’ll likely find that a sense of peace washes over you.
- Look for the good. Instead of always focusing on what’s wrong, try looking at what is right in your life. “In every human being there is both garbage and gold,” said author Werner Erhard. “It’s up to us to choose what we pay attention to.” Looking for the good in others — as well as in life and ourselves — is one of the best ways to create a path of gratitude, Robbins explains.
- Seek first to understand.
- Stephen Covey hit the nail on the head with this fifth principle in his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.” As challenging as it can be, one of the best things you can do is shift your attention from getting people to understand you (or getting irritated when they don’t) and move instead toward understanding the other person.
It’s amazing how this can change the dynamic. Being curious about another person’s perspective doesn’t mean you agree with them, explains Robbins. It simply allows you to see where they’re coming from — which is essential to connecting and resolving a conflict.
- Be gentle with others — and yourself. Being gentle is the opposite of being critical. You may not like or agree with someone else’s actions, although you can be gentle in how you engage with them. Most importantly, you need to apply this gentleness to yourself. When you’re critical and judgmental of those around you, that negative residue comes back on you.
Everyone around you — family members, significant others, friends, bosses, co-workers, even people you don’t know — is likely doing the best they can with what they know and the resources they have.
When you can remember this — and come from a place of compassion — it makes all the difference in the world in how you feel.
As author Anais Nin reminds us, “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.”