Have you ever caught yourself mounting an offensive against the people in your life. But done it over and over again in your head. Creating or carrying on silent arguments. Analyzing disagreements, thinking about what they said or did and what you should or could have said?
Whether it’s in our jobs or our personal lives we have people around us that just seem to aggravate and annoy us. Interacting with them holds the potential of turning your day upside down. Roping you into and endless loop of arguing with ghosts.
Now, have you ever thought that it might not be them. That it might be you?
I spent so much time battling the ghost.
If the smallest task at work wasn’t done the way I would do it, or with the same efficiency, I’d start the blame game. Going through the list in my head of coworkers, that, in my opinion weren’t cutting the mustard.
It got to the point, during meetings, that I’d be doing mental eye rolls at other people’s opinions, stuck in a thought tangent that counter pointed their point. The noise in my head was all I could hear for the rest of the day.
Obviously this is not a very healthy or productive practice. It’s not worth becoming consumed with that type of negativity.
So what do we do to stop the cycle?
We need to turn that judgemental attitude on ourselves. I don’t mean that you have to start putting yourself down or thinking less of yourself. What really needs to be done is a reversal of the thought process.
I bet that if you take a really hard look at the frustrations in your life. Whether it’s people, chores, responsibilities or just stubbing your toe on the coffee table. In the immediate aftermath, you point the finger.
“The kids pushed the coffee table out of place. Those little so and so’s”.
“Travis didn’t get that report done with the graph I wanted. That useless so and so”.
Or maybe it just came down to doing the dishes and you find yourself silently scolding your roommate or spouse for not doing it before you got home.
Any way you look at it you have a choice. Your thoughts are yours. You created them and you can dissolve them. You can continue to blame others for your circumstance or you can hold yourself accountable for your effect on it.
Maybe Travis didn’t put that graph on the report because in your last interaction you talked down to him. Maybe you told him you would add the graph. Maybe the kids didn’t move the coffee table. Maybe you just walked to close to it. Maybe your doing the dishes because last night you said you’d get it done but didn’t and forgot.
Realistically those ghost conversations you’ve been having. Are in some way related to what you are not getting out of yourself. The interactions, may not be direct reflectionS of what’s really bothering you, but they are trying to point you at the source.
A lot of the time the source is you.
I know for myself. I’m loud, opinionated and self confident. That doesn’t always translate very well to people that don’t know me.
I pride myself on efficiency and a strong ability to learn. I can get obsessive over mastering a craft. I’m competitive and analytical. It becomes a source of frustration if those around me can’t or don’t do the same.
I had to learn that seeing things that way, was in itself a fault. I can’t hold other people accountable for what my expectations are. Theirs may not be the same. They may not be there for the same reasons, with the same mindset or the same goals. I can’t hold them at fault for that. I had to learn that the hard way.
But you don’t have to.
When I broke my negative thought cycle, it took a long time, a lot of effort and awareness. I came across plenty of information that was simple to adopt but didn’t really alleviate the that mental battle.
These are the most popular offerings I found:
Focusing on the awareness of breath, utilizing breathing styles/exercises to achieve calm throughout the mind and body.
The practice of teaching your mind, body and breath to be free of the external infringements of life. In the attempt to achieve awareness, clarity, calm and focus.
The practice of transforming ones physical appearance and function to better improve ones overall health.
The time in which the body and mind recuperate and recharge. Getting the proper amount is imperative.
I tried all of it. Yes these things do work to help calm the mind and improve focus. What I found was, as much as all of this helped, more so I was being pointed towards thought process management. My own ability to consciously control what type of thoughts I was having.
The First stage was Conscious awareness of these thoughts. As soon as that ghost made a peep, I’d shut it down.
The Second stage was Self recognition. “I made up the original argument”. “I fueled it”. “I can make it go away”.
The Third stage was Empathy. Realizing that in no way was I giving the benefit of the doubt. I was assuming neglect and projecting uninformed assumptions on others.
Each stage took time.
In the beginning, it won’t be until after the fact that you notice it. That’s the first step to change though, that’s a good thing. Eventually, you’ll catch yourself in the middle of it. Ultimately you will be able to silence the smallest peep and move on without a lasting thought.
You’ll start to reflect on your effect on the situation. Maybe you could have spoken or interacted in a different way, with a different economy of words or more precise actions.
Finally realizing that empathy isn’t just feeling for another individual but accepting that we all operate with a different guidance system. Even though we all have the same goal in mind, we don’t all follow the same path of arrival.
Healthy living isn’t just nutritional or physical exercise. It’s all encompassing. Taking care of the operating system is just as important. If you can change how you think, by understanding where your thoughts are born and what they are born from. You will create powerful and positive changes in your life.