5 years ago, a lot of things used to upset me. An “incorrectly” loaded dishwasher, a snide remark, a relative/friend forgetting to wish us on an important occasion, bad food, irritating company… Then I went through infertility treatment. Faced the possibility of never having another baby to hold. Got pregnant, felt the baby move and got overwhelmed because a dream I had been afraid to dream came true. Then I lost my job, suffered a few side effects of hormone therapy during IVF, faced a few health scares and lost my dad rather unexpectedly.
All these misfortunes put things in perspective for me. I had lost my job but I was lucky we were financially stable enough for me to stay at home for a while and care for my younger daughter who was often falling sick at the daycare. I had hypertension, but at least it had been diagnosed early and was under check. The only event I could not find a positive side for was (and still is) my father’s death. But his death has taught me so much! It taught me how fickle life is. I have my husband and my children today. I could lose one of them tomorrow, or they could lose me. Keeping that in mind, is a correctly loaded dishwasher really that big of a deal? I learned to let go of things, to differentiate what mattered from what didn’t.
Even now some things do bother me. An incorrectly loaded dishwasher still makes my fingers itch to set it straight, but I can control that urge now. A gift that receives no thanks from the receiver still makes me wonder about their manners. Rude and unruly kids still make me grind my teeth and display a fake smile. But these things no longer make me want to express my opinions loud and clear. I have learned to keep a lid on my thoughts and opinions when expressing them isn’t going to accomplish anything except increase my own angst. At the same time, funnily enough, I have learned to speak my mind clearly when it is needed. I don’t hesitate in saying what I believe but I also have learned to say it more kindly and tactfully.
Handling the things that upset you
So what things upset you? And, more importantly, how do you handle them? Here is what I have learned regarding how to handle things that are upsetting.
Give yourself time. When something upsets you, avoid taking an action on it right away . Give yourself time to cool down. Spend a night/day mulling over it. If, after that, you still feel the same way, it means it is something you need to take care of. Most times though, after you cool down it seems unnecessary to create a scene about the event that upset you. The time you spend cooling down puts a perspective on its importance for you.
Distance yourself from the issue. Not physical distance, emotional distance. Try to look at it from the other party’s point of view. Or as a third party. Often, when you try to understand the other person’s point of view, you might realize that you probably played a part in creating the situation as well. Once you find that you were equally or partly responsible for the situation, it will lessen the intensity of your emotions and enable you to see the issue more clearly.
Remember to be polite. No matter what. When a situation gets dirty, it helps to stay polite. I have personally experienced it. But that doesn’t mean you have to bend over backwards to keep peace. There is a difference between being polite and being a pushover. Being polite means not calling names, treating the other party with the same respect you expect for yourself, not being sarcastic… the whole nine yards. Being a pushover is when someone calls you a name and you let them get away with it without making it clear that you won’t tolerate it.
Realize that there are some things you cannot change. In the toughest times of my life, the serenity prayer carried me through. “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. Knowing the difference makes all the difference. Sometimes you may have to accept something just to keep the peace or for your own peace of mind. I had to accept that my husband cannot (or will not) load the dishwasher the same exact way I do it. Then I had to decide what was more important for me – his help or doing things my way? When I realized that his help made it possible for me to get out of the kitchen 15 minutes sooner, it was easier for me to accept his way of loading the dishwasher.
And, in the end, it didn’t make much of a difference because the dishes didn’t mind being loaded either way!
Pic credit: zubrow (Used under a CC license)