Would you like to be able to move towards feeling more compassionate, rather than angry, towards that person?
Would it be useful to be able to quickly turn things around, when you feel your blood pressure rising because that co-worker, friend, family member or acquaintance is behaving ‘that way’ again?
Here’s the question that I try to remember to use, when someone is really bugging me – and it works:
What might be true in their world, for them to believe this behaviour is acceptable?
This isn’t about mind-reading or pretending we know what’s going on inside someone else’s head. It’s about trying to imagine the world from the other person’s viewpoint, to try to make sense of their behaviour. When we can do that, it is much easier to let go of the drama and to set ourselves free from the painful dance of reacting on auto-pilot, often making things worse.
So, thinking about someone whose behaviour is less than great, what might be going on in their world, right now? I’m not talking about the ‘story’, I’m talking about what they might have to believe, in order to behave this way. What might they be feeling scared of? Are they trying to protect themselves? Which unmet need is screaming for attention, through their actions?
At first, it can be hard to get your head around all this. But of you play with this technique for minor irritations, it quickly becomes a habitual way of turning your responses around, when someone behaves unkindly.
Remember that all criticism is borne of someone elses’s pain? Similarly, all unkind behaviour comes from a part of that person that is hurting. Happy people don’t lash out.
Being able to separate the actions from the actor is a key step towards setting yourself free. Being able to respond from a place of compassion, even if your gut response was anger, can transform your experience of life. And, of course, we can also apply this question to ourselves, if we have a habitual way of behaving that we want to deal with.
By uncovering the possible fears and beliefs behind the actions, we can start to see what’s ‘real’ and what’s ‘drama’, setting ourselves free to choose a happier outcome.
I’d love to hear how you get on, if you get a chance to play with this today.
Wishing you sunshine and laughter,