I am sure all of us have been in a position where we have been offended by something someone said or did—and even hours, days, or years later, we still get riled up. In some cases, we can remove such people from our lives, and in some cases, we cannot.

Quote: Respond Intelligently even to unintelligent treatment – Lao Tzu

As I mentioned in previous blogs, the area that I am working in now has been dysfunctional for a long time. Until I took this role, I thought I had mastered inner peace (Yes, I am naive and full of myself that way 🙂 ). But a few months into the role, I found external factors hijacked my mind chatter – like how shocking the state of things was or what one of my team members or peers said to me. Like any life lesson, it took suffering to bring awareness to the fact that I was reacting. And this time around, thanks to my mentor, who pointed out that sometimes things have nothing to do with me – it has to do with other people. Once realization set in, I began to notice more and more how others said something, and I would take it personally and go on a spin. Now, there are different scenarios here.

For example, one of my work colleagues might say – I am surprised that you are finding work difficult.

My initial reaction is that they are telling me I am weak or lacking in some way, whereas in reality, it could be one of the following scenarios.

Harmless Comment: They might be just expressing their opinion, with no intention or malice behind it.

Malicious Comment: They are jealous of me and secretly happy that I am struggling at work—they use this opportunity to take a dig.

Toxic Comment: They are miserable inside due to their unsuccessful career and cannot regulate their emotions—and they are spilling out of them.

There could be many reasons why a person said something—they might be jealous or insecure, or it might remind them of their unsuccessful attempts. They might be control freaks or just plain angry that they are not getting their way. Or they may be having a bad day. So, there is absolutely no way I can know for sure what is prompting that comment—and even if I ask, the other party may not be aware.

Now, let’s focus on what I can change—myself. Even when I wrote that statement, I could feel my heart tighten and anger bubbling up in me. And this time, it is me telling this to myself; no other party is involved. Emotions travel faster than thought – so I have already started emoting even before my rational mind had the chance to question if the statement is true or not. I cannot, at this point, change the rate at which emotions arise, but I can be aware of them in my body.

I will admit this requires me to level up in terms of awareness. In the past, I had fewer instances of this thing – so I could be intentional about them, like before a meeting or with a particular person. And it was easy to deal with such situations when I was prepared. But, in this area – there are many of these instances that I cannot control when and how they happen. I might go through my day when suddenly a random comment hits me because this is a dysfunctional area – I am working in an area that hasn’t been working for a long time. I have to be prepared for such googly or curve balls – which require a heightened focus on breathing and awareness of sensations in my body.

And the universe thinks I am ready for the next level. And I know I can do it—you know why? Because whether I want it or not, people will make comments until I learn—how great is that! This is how we learn any new skill, right? We did not start swimming the minute we stepped into the pool; we were all not great authors with our first sentences or great managers in our first job. My focus needs to be inward and on learning.

How often does your mind chatter get hijacked by external actors?

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