When someone is harsh, I notice an immediate tendency to move away. This shows how easily I’m captured by self-clinging, more concerned about myself than the other.
That doesn’t mean I’m judging myself. I understand how deeply entrenched these patterns can be. Nevertheless, I would like to train myself not to close down my heart so quickly. A harsh person may be hurting and especially need love.
How to Become Imperturbable
Instead of seeing “offensive” people as an irritant, we can decide to see them as our best friend. By pushing our buttons, they’re giving us a chance to practice patience, love, and forgiveness. These are indispensable qualities to develop if we are serious about realizing our full potential as a human being in this life.
How can we develop the strength to respond differently when we feel irritated, annoyed, uncomfortable, or irked by another person’s behavior or speech? It’s not necessarily easy, but here are some of the steps I’m practicing myself.
1. Understanding comes first.
No one really wants to be a thorn in your side. Their annoying habits were probably born from their own early hurts and pain.
Just like you, everyone wants to be happy and to avoid suffering at all costs. But wishes aside, we tend to stumble confusedly around, engaging in habitual behavior that just makes it all the worse. So see the person as another you, who just wants to be happy, but doesn’t know how.
2. Get centered.
Is your mind floating around out there, involved in all the hectic activity of the day? If so, it’s probably primed to react with emotions and projections at the least offense.
Bring your mind home to the present moment. Then center yourself in your body and breath. This is where your clarity and power lie. Here’s how to get your feet firmly planted on the ground.
3. Create some breathing room.
Imagine a protective field of space, light, or love surrounding your being, and providing comfort, latitude, and clarity. This spacious field protects you not just from the negative energy of others, but from your own tendency to react without a thought. It’s that place between stimulus and response where you have a chance to respond in a new and different way.
4. Cultivate compassion.
Now that you understand theoretically, try putting yourself in this particular person’s shoes. When you look at things from their perspective, you might have a very different view. Your love and acceptance could make a big difference in their life. Learn more in my series on Cultivating Genuine Compassion.
Or, you might want to try these Three Little Tricks to Deal with People Who Offend You.
The important thing to know about annoying people is that they’re actually your best friend. When Atisha, the great Indian sage, traveled to Tibet, he took along his ill-tempered Bengali cook. Why? It guaranteed his opportunity to practice patience without a break. Atisha advised,
“Do not get angry with those that harm you.
If you get angry with those who harm you,
When are you going to cultivate patience?
Does that mean you should be a doormat and accept abuse? Of course not! Use common sense and intelligence.
Now we can’t go from aversion to being Mother Teresa in one fell-swoop. Until we develop a forceful patience, we may need to gently walk away from annoyance, and send our blessings invisibly.
How do you cope with people with annoy or irritate you?
I’m happy you’re here! If you liked this article, please consider subscribing for free updates by email. And sharing rocks! With love, Sandra