Updated: Aug 20
Last weekend, I held another online seminar in Japanese. The theme was "relationships". It's almost that our life revolves around all kinds of relationships. This is one of the best part of our lives, and it can be possibly the worst part of our lives at times. Yet we humans can not live without relationships. So how about we figure out the best way to deal with other people so that you just get the best part of the relationships and leave out the worst part?
First of all, how you react to the person or what the person says or does to you is about 95% pre-determined. Same as the person you're talking to. Their reaction is pretty much decided even before the conversation starts. Why is this? The conversation or the interaction is merely a trigger, the last push of a button for you or the other to react. Let me give you an example.
Let's say your boss pulls you into his office and told you this.
"Why do you make so many mistakes? Do something about this."
He handed you the documents that you prepared the other day. What is your reaction? I mean, what thoughts come to your mind?
"I did it again. I'm so useless, just like he says."
"He's so mean. This mistake originally came from my coworker. Not entirely my fault."
"He must hate me. How can I keep working here if he hates me?"
"He's only pointed out two mistakes including this one so far. He must be mixing me up with someone else in his head since he's thinking I'm always making mistakes."
"I didn't realize this was a mistake. Good to know."
Can you see so many different thoughts come up in different people's head? Why did he decide to say it this way? It could be that this boss is a bit of a perfectionist, so he expects everyone to be at the same level as him. So two mistakes is way too many for him. Or, maybe he was in a bad mood so he just couldn't help exaggerate. Or he could have the principle of "be very strict with employees to make them learn" and go by that rule. Who knows? But basically this proves his words and actions come from his thought pattern, habits, rules, mood, character etc. The only fact that you need to accept is there was a mistake and you need to fix it. That's it. How he said doesn't have to make you feel like he hates you or you feel worthless. Because his words and actions have nothing to do with you. And you have no responsibility for his mood, action or reaction. All you need to do is to accept the fact and deal with it. Which is there is a mistake to be fixed.
In this sense, how you react to his actions and words has nothing to do with your boss, and he has no responsibility on how you feel, think, or react to what he says to you. Because you reacted by your thought pattern, habits, mood, or beliefs as well. If you felt useless, you might be saying this to yourself every time a little mistake is found. Or maybe you've had several incidents leading to this day and felt that was all your wrong doing, and what he said to you almost confirmed the fear that you might be useless. If you felt your boss was aggressive towards you, you might have had many aggressive people around you and you're very sensitive with that type of people. So since there is only one fact that you made a mistake and you need to fix it, you take responsibility in fixing it. He is not responsible on how you felt because of how he said to you, nor you are responsible on how irritated he is by your mistake. Because our reactions are pre-determined most of the time!
So then, how do we deal with other people in a way that keeps ourselves relatively happy and calm? First, you need to realize what thought pattern, or beliefs, or rules, or mood you're bringing with yourself before entering the interaction. When there's the same reaction, there's the same emotion behind it, and there's the same thought pattern. If you feel "everyone's mean to me", your brain would detect every little nuance in the person's tones and words, you'd always search for "meanness" in their words. As soon as you feel even a little meanness, this confirms your belief of "everyone's mean" and therefore, you make the same emotion, like you're a victim or you're powerless and react exactly the same way. But once you realize your pattern of thoughts, you can stop it or change it before you react. Time to let go of thought pattern that doesn't help you any more. And second thing is to be yourself in any relationship. It means to say what you want to say and do what you do, like an honest little child. But since you're already an adult, say what's on your mind and do what you want to do with utmost respect and consideration to others. Third thing is to not expect anything from the other and accept them as they are. When you feel you want them to understand you, or you want them to say what you want them to say, or do what you want them to do, these are all expectations. You can't change people. At the same time, don't change yourself for how they want you to be. Or how the society wants you to be. Or how your culture wants you to be, unless that aligns with how you want to be. Others have no responsibility or whatsoever how your life turns out. So no matter how much you try to change yourself for others, or the society, or your parents, if you get the outcome you don't like out of doing so, or making yourself feel unhappy by doing what you don't want to do, no one's responsible except for yourself. No matter how much you tell them "I did it for you" "You made me do it", you are ultimately responsible for what you say and what you do. If you need to be 100% responsible for yourself, for your words, actions, thoughts and emotions, basically everything about yourself, why not be yourself and put yourself at the top of the priority list? If you don't like chocolate, tell your friends you don't like chocolate. If you don't wanna attend the party, thank them for inviting you and don't go. If someone says something horrible to you, this was their own decision to be nasty. You have no reason to be hurt by them because they have no right to hurt you. Ever. They are doing this because of their own thought pattern. This doesn't justify them for hurting you, nor you need to feel you deserve it. Ever. While you do need to take responsibility for everything about you, interact with everyone as your true self with respect and kindness. You also have a right to be treated exactly the same way. Always.
Be kind to yourself, love yourself, put yourself at the top of the priority list while you treat others with the same love and kindness. Know that we all have learned patterns and beliefs that get in the way of being our true selves. Notice your patterns and change. Be your own observer. Notice others' pattern and accept they're acting out of their habits. Realize your value never goes away by what people say or do to you. Relationship is like the best classroom. There's always so much to learn. I hope all of us can spread the love and compassion by being loving and compassionate to ourselves first.