A cactus does not become a lily because I felt bad that it pricked me. A cactus is in this world for a purpose and it shall live its purpose. Likewise, a lily. It is for me to know the difference between the two and what to expect and how to use them accordingly. It doesn’t matter if it is a young one or an old one. Each has its nature and it will stay true to its nature regardless of how I feel about it.
Likewise, if someone hurts us, we might feel like reacting to them and communicating our displeasure. But, before we do so, it is good to think through – if we really want to.
Firstly, what is the purpose – is it for our satisfaction? Just to get it off our chest? If that is the case, then it may be better to talk to ourselves about it OR we could imagine that we have already communicated it to the other and stop at that. We don’t actually need to bother telling anyone in reality as this is a purpose only for the self.
If not, is it because we share a great relationship and this was a one off case where we want to clarify? If yes, then we may go ahead – but sticking to the observed behaviours only without attaching any labels or interpretations is important. Keeping in mind that it is our perception helps us in giving them the benefit of doubt.
In certain scenarios, we need not have to address the issue with the person at all if we can make a change in the environment. And that would create the desired difference. It is smart and easy to work on the environment wherever we can. For example, instead of telling children not to drink ice cold water, we can stop filling the water bottles in the fridge. If we know our kid spills food, before we advice him, it is good to check if we need to change the plate or if we should make a change in the immediate environment. As someone rightly said “Don’t fix people, fix the process”.
Then, think of the other person – have you had situations where you found them very reasonable and you think they might understand what you are saying? Or have you always experienced only the side of them which you did not like as much or felt they never understood you? If that is the case, then communicating displeasure will only make matters further worse than improve in any way. If they were mature enough, they might not have said or done half the things they did. If they have demonstrated this unhealthy pattern for a long time, we telling them might not really make much of a difference apart from giving them another opportunity to talk things that might hurt us further.
Consider if the person is really important. Do you really love them? And do you want them playing an active role in your life? If not, let go. The problem sometimes is we spend 80% of our time and energy trying to fix the 20% of the problem people in our lives. They don’t change and we don’t stop trying. This only leads to a lot more of friction, a lot less productivity and unnecessary frustration.
In such cases nothing better than ignoring. The more we pay attention to them, the more we are giving them the control to our life and happiness. The minute we put them on ignore mode, the quality of our life instantly improves, as if by magic! That’s the power of ignoring the unwanted rubbish in life.
Sometimes, we may hear something unhealthy from people whom we love a lot too. In those times, it is not the person, but the words we can choose to ignore for that moment and move on. If you always let others tell you who you are, you might land up losing your sense of self as soon as they have a bad day. We may not be able to control what someone else does or says. But we certainly have the power to choose what we pay attention to and what we don’t.
Lastly and most importantly, check if this is a battle worth fighting currently. It is important to pick our battles wisely. Is this most important right now and are we in a state to handle whatever happens as a result? Sometimes, we can be cognizant of our life situation and be kind to our own selves and drop the battle right there even if someone else hasn’t been as thoughtful. For example, someone has been very unkind and harsh in a remark although they know that you have recently experienced a huge personal loss. In this case, reacting to their comment will only make us feel more agitated than peaceful. They have not been kind to us doesn’t mean we increase our troubles by focusing on them. Best if ignored again.
As the serenity prayer goes – Grant me the power to change things that I can, accept things that I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.
If we were to modify it – Grant me the power to forgive people who matter, ignore people who don’t and the maturity to know the difference & be accordingly.