What are the behaviors that frustrate and annoy you most in others?
What are the behaviors that you admire most in others?
The image above is a sand drawing I made last week, while listening to a conversation I had with my wife about what we don’t like about our marriage / each other. Listening to our conversation, while walking on the beach barefoot with a beautiful sunset and the sea brushing my feet, it was easier to take some distance and put my “coaching hat” on.
As a result, I could listen to the conversation as if it were two clients of mine having it. This shift from being in the conversation to observing the conversation, is what William Ury calls in his great TED talk “going to the balcony“.
With the newly gained distance, it was obvious that we were both doing exactly what we blamed each other for. From my perspective as a coach, whatever I was being annoyed with her about was clearly something I was annoyed with myself about… and whatever she was annoyed with me about was clearly something she was annoyed at about herself. This realization allowed me to stop blaming her, and putting my problems on her, and instead focus on what I could change in myself: my wife became my Messiah (see article “You are my Messiah and you don’t know it“). Those who are closest to us (spouse, parents, siblings, etc) are often our biggest Messiahs because they reflect on us most what we dislike in ourselves.
Yesterday, I saw this video related to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, that claims to be censored but that shows footage which claims the cop isn’t really killed… so I asked on Facebook: “interesting video asking questions about the shooting in Paris… what do you think?”
I thought we’d have have an interesting conversation about reality, media and whether we can ever know what is true and what isn’t.
The result was very different than what I expected: smart, educated and reasonable people who condemn violence reacted to my question with violence, censorship and labeling: “Stop it Noam”, “you’re an idiot” and “I’m disappointed you’re a conspiracy theorist”.
From a sociological and psychological perspective, I find it fascinating that we behave in ways where we condemn others: these cartoonists were targeted because they asked questions about society through their drawings, and I’m now targeted for asking questions about society by the very people who condemn targeting the cartoonists.
At first I was annoyed, and hurt that people reacted to my question in such a disrespectful and violent way. My initial thought was of a victim: “I just asked an innocent question, I don’t deserve to receive so much negativity”.
Then I remembered that what we don’t like in others is what we don’t like in ourselves… and therefore that if I’m annoyed, and hurt because I feel the answers are provocative and violent, it is most probably a reflection of how provocative and violent my question was. I feel people posted answers without having read my post properly… it was a reflection that I had written my post without learning about the subject properly.
The moment I realized this, I could take distance (“go to the balcony”) and apologize for hurting people with my question. Instantaneously, the next answers were more positive and constructive like I had initially wanted.
Now that I can see the irony of both mine and others’ reactions, the world is a much more beautiful place.
What we dislike and what angers us in others, is a reflection of disowned parts of ourselves. They are characteristics we don’t like to see in ourselves, and when we see it in others it angers us, because it reminds us that deep down we are like that, too.
In the very same way, what we like in others is a reflection of parts of ourselves that we fail to appreciate: they’re characteristics we have but that we don’t believe we have. (see the video “You are what you admire” by JP Morgan Jr).
The moment we realize that what angers others, and what we admire in others are both a reflection of how we see ourselves, our world changes.
You will now find 6 actions you can take right now to make a massive change in your life. If you follow these 6 steps, you will replace some of your anger and frustration by joy, laughter and appreciation.
ACTION 1: Make a list of everything that frustrates you, angers you and annoys you in others. To help, you can think about parents, partners, children, siblings, teachers, bosses, employees, customers, neighbors, etc.
eg. My mum annoys me because she always tells me what to do.
ACTION 2: Turn these statements around by replacing their name with yours.
eg. I annoy myself because I always tell people what to do.
ACTION 3: Write 3 examples that support the new statements with your names.
eg. Example 1: Yesterday I met with a friend who was facing a problem and I told him what he should do.
ACTION 4: Read these statements and examples out loud. Note how it feels to read them out loud.
ACTION 5: Next time you are annoyed, frustrated or angry at someone’s behavior, apologize to them, because it is you who are really annoyed, frustrated and even angry with yourself. Note the reaction you get from people.
ACTION 6: To go deeper into this work, hire someone who can see you from the outside (a coach / therapist / counselor / facilitator / etc) and/or listen to the audio book “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie.
Keep creating, keep shining,
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