Have you ever noticed how uptight we can get for the smallest offenses? Sometimes, I think that whenever this happens, we should be obligated to stick a gigantic, pink pacifier in our mouths. That might help us remember to stop acting like big babies! Myself included, at times.
Someone gives us a slightly unfriendly look - we take offense, take it personally, feel bad and we let it affect us for the rest of the day sometimes.
A friend forgets to reply to our email - irritation, hurt or worry set in:
“Don’t they care about me?”
“Is our friendship over?”
Meanwhile, it turns out that your email went into their spam folder, or they were sick or extremely busy. Some people are just disorganized with things like email.
The waiter isn’t grinning ear-to-ear when they interact with you. - "Hmmph! They’re not getting any tip. I demand only the best dining experience. I need to be wowed." We might complain to the manager and resolve never to go back to that restaurant.
Go to a restaurant in almost any other country outside of North America and quite often, you won’t get the fake, obligatorily smiling wait-staff. Instead, you get a more authentic experience at a restaurant. It’s only our entitled attitude that creates these silly expectations in restaurants in North America. Why do we need to be waited on and catered to anyway? I much prefer the down-to-earth experience I get in casual homestyle restaurants in places like Spain or Mexico.
Someone cuts us off in traffic - we give them the finger, honk like a maniac and wish that we had machine guns built into either side of our car, just like James Bond. I'm going to email a few car manufacturers about my stellar idea right now.
We really need to question these conditioned emotional reactions. Everyone around us believes and acts in ways that create an uptight, intolerant attitude and so we take that on too.
Remember - there are other cultures around the world that have a more flexible, relaxed attitude about life than we do in North America. This is proof that our attitudes and behaviors can be flexible and that our interpretations are subject to change. There is no one universal way to react to someone cutting you in traffic, for example.
I used honk at people sometimes when they did something unsafe in traffic. Now, I only honk as a warning, to warn them of danger. That’s the compassionate, friendly response.
Imagine you're walking down an almost empty sidewalk. Someone is walking toward you, just to your left. You're walking forward, but you're looking to your right to find a store you need to go to. Even though there's lots of space, they bump into your left side - not hard, but definitely noticeable. They keep walking and don't say sorry to you.
Our immediate reaction is annoyance, offense, all the way up to outright anger. We might even bark out some nasty words.
Imagine if when they turned around, you saw that they were blind, or had a physical disability that affected how they move.
Suddenly, that changes everything. You realize that this person bumped into you completely by accident. They couldn't help it.
You brush it off and continue about your day.
Notice that whether the person was blind or not, it didn't change the actual event: Someone still bumped into us.
Bu our interpretation of the physical event changed. This is an example of letting people "get away with it". You've dismissed the event, you made excuses for the other person that validated their behaviour, made it ok or acceptable.
Same behaviour, same action, but our internal experience changes.
Try letting people “get away with it’ once in awhile, for small offenses. That means, you let it go. Immediately, if you can.
Reflect. Turn your attention inside. What belief pattern is causing you to take offense, especially for such a goofy, little thing?
How can you soften your attitude to certain events so that you remain calm, centered and peaceful within?
You could be as still as a lake with not even a ripple of fear or anger.
It is possible. And it's a much healthier place to live from than allowing ourselves to get provoked throughout the day when people aren't living up to our demands.
"Letting people get away with it" is really is is a way of retraining your automatic tendency to take offense. It’s a letting go of the need to have the world behave exactly in the restricted way that you have predetermined in your mind.
Doing this helps build patience, and creates and flexible, adaptable mind. A happy mind. We become just a little more easy-going, a little lighter.
Give this a shot and let me know how it goes for you. I’d like to hear your stories and thoughts in the comments below.
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