Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Two tools to use when dealing with people we don't like

Ever have a difficult relationship result in clouded judgment?

Do you have trouble deciding on the next right thing to do when working with clients, animals, or staff that you don't like?

 I get so focused on what the jerk did that I can't see clearly what I should do in response. I get offended and can't properly think.

First I need to realize this is a natural process and step away from blaming others and myself. What I mean is that when I'm offended my autonomic nervous system cranks up the sympathetic branch; cortisol and adrenalin levels rise; the blood flow, oxygenation, and energy to my brain stem and major muscle groups increases, while my frontal lobes and amygdala get starved; and I’m physiologically in great shape to react, to confront others or stick my head in the sand, but in crummy shape to think through the situation and respond with compassion.

In the heat of the moment I’ve found softening my belly and focusing on my breath while feeling my belly expand when I inhale tips the scale a bit toward the parasympathetic, toward rational, compassionate thought. I take a deep breath. I give myself a moment. I pay attention to what my body and emotions are telling me. I take another deep breath.

For growth over the long term I’ve found meditation essential to train my brain; to give me some control over repetitive, obsessive, and negative thought processes; to rein in that wild foal of a brain stem. I’ve found lovingkindness meditation most helpful. The essence follows. First, I acknowledge that I want to be happy, useful, healthy, and at peace. Next I do the same for someone who is easy to love; a child, pet, spouse, or close friend may come to mind. Then I repeat the acknowledgment of the same for an acquaintance, like the clerk at the store I know, but not well. Finally I repeat this for whoever is on the top of my list of irritants. This has nothing to do with what anyone deserves. I just realize and affirm that they probably want to be happy, useful, healthy, and at peace. This tool helps me realize the oneness of humans and animals in life. As a result I am better able to deal with irritating people and animals.

There are many tools available to address burnout, which is what you described, a mismatch of ethics accompanied by not being part of the same team as this irritating individual. If you are new to meditation I encourage you to check out Insight Timer - It is the top free meditation phone application.

I’ve described two tools that work for me. I hope you find some tools that work for you, too.