I had a conversation with an acquaintance this past week that really tried my patience. While my relationship with this individual had been wearing on me for some time, our interactions of late - while less frequent - had really taken a lot out of me. As part of my own personal growth, I try to be observant when I become agitated by another person’s actions. I attempt to respond thoughtfully, rather than react sporadically. I step back, take a breath. I observe. I consider. In observing this particular relationship, I feel I’d done a rather good job of practicing patience, forgiveness, and holding space for the other person’s growth. So, this week, when I most felt the desire to react from an unloving, ego-driven, place; I took it as a sign to take pause and call upon the tools I’d been diligently adding to my toolkit over the past few years.
Let me tell you, this wasn’t easy. I was tempted to react snarkily, but knew that reaction would bring me only temporary satisfaction and ultimately take me further away from peace. So, as difficult as it might have been, I took the opportunity to practice these four steps to find peace when someone is testing your patience
Witness your wound. When someone’s actions or words trigger us in a negative way, the first and most enlightened step we can take is to witness how our own wounds drive our perceptions and reactions. In moments where we find another is trying our patience, step back and simply witness how your past experiences might impact your reaction. Rather than reacting immediately, hold space for this wound. Remember that a wound is like a marker in your memory; a place your mind travels back to when things get chaotic, even if that place is not a productive mental space for you to be in. We go back there because it is familiar and has left a strong imprint on our psyche. If we can recognize that we’ve gotten caught up in a story, it will be easier for us to notice that story, rather than it take over. Being gentle with ourselves in these moments also allows us more space to be gentle with the other person; to also witness their wounds. However, this is where our work stops for now; simply witness the wounds, and show empathy for yourself and the other person.
Focus on your side of the street. We cannot control how someone treats us; the only thing we can control is our reaction. Often, when someone has done something that unnerves us in some way, we can lean into the temptation to tell the other person why they are wrong or take the opportunity to make a dig at them for their behaviors. Specifically, once we've taken the time to bear witness to someone else's wounds, it might be tempting to expose those wounds to them in some passive or direct way. While you might receive some temporary satisfaction or relief by recommending to the other person how they might change their behaviors; a much faster road to peace is to ask how you might react differently and spend your time focusing on your own healing rather than trying to “fix” the other person. Fixing others is not our purpose. Our purpose is to demonstrate peace and invite others along on our path. This may seem easier said than done. In moments where you are tempted to focus on the actions of others, ask yourself how you might practice love and compassion rather than judgement.
Ask yourself, would i rather be right, or happy? Sometimes, when someone has tested our patience, it’s easy to think of how fulfilling it might be to give them a piece of our mind. To argue. To make them “wrong” in order to achieve some sort of psychological “win”. The reality is, the is no winning or losing in relationships. As soon as we begin to compete with someone for the upper hand, we have detoured into the path of fear...this is always a detour in the wrong direction. In these situations, you may very well be in the right, but arguing for your position is unlikely to gain you the outcome that you desire. Instead, consider saying this prayer to the Universe, “Right now, I am feeling triggered. I am feeling in judgement. I am feeling impatient, but I am willing to feel differently. I choose to see peace instead of this. Please help guide me out of this current story and back to a place of peace.”
Ask for a miracle. A miracle is simply a shift in our perception and occurs at the level of the subconscious mind. There is no situation too small or large for a miracle to impact. Often, we lose track of this option, because we determine an outcome that seems to be most favorable to our ego (the aforementioned option where we “win”) and fail to see the possibility of other solutions. A miracle will rarely result in the solution our ego might demand. For this reason, our ego will encourage us to maintain control of the situation; thus deterring any chance of a miracle. A miracle requires surrender of our will.
When we ask for a miracle, one of two things will happen: the other person will change unexpectedly, or our minds will change and we simply won’t care anymore. While neither of these options sounds particularly triumphant to the ego-mind, I can’t think of a scenario where achieving mental peace wouldn’t be the most fulfilling scenario. Asking for a miracle is easy; simply say, “Dear Universe, I need a miracle. This situation is bothering me and I can’t find a way out on my own. I need help; I need a miracle. I turn this situation, and my thoughts about it over to you for healing.” That’s it. Simply ask, be willing to relinquish control, and wait.
I have asked for this type of miraculous healing in relationships of all kinds. Most notably, I recall when I asked for help during a time when I knew I would be spending a lot of time with a female who I wasn’t particularly fond of. I had been dreading the interaction, but knew if I continued down the mental path I was on, I would have a miserable time. So, instead, I asked for a miracle. Now, the miracle wasn’t instant, but I survived the interaction. Shortly thereafter, and I can offer no explanation for this, I found this female had become one of my closest friends.
Choosing to react from a thoughtful, enlightened place when someone is testing our patience is no simple task. It requires humility, maturity, trust, and faith. However, when I count the number of times I've chosen the path of peace over the path of having the upper hand, I have felt better every time. In these moments it's important to remember that all relationships are Universal assignments, placed in front of us to ensure our optimal growth and self-actualization (should we choose to use them as such). It is often our most troubling relationships and interactions that serve as the vessel for our greatest growth. If we are willing to take that opportunity and practice these four steps, we will experience not only personal peace, but transformation where there would have otherwise been anxiety and frustration...which do you feel would serve you better?