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This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Don't Take It Personally/The Value of Critical Thinking

 How to maintain your own position in the face of another's noxious disposition Have a co-worker who seems unable to keep in mind that other people in the workplace have needs too?  Have a noisy neighbor?  Or, maybe the parent of your child's friend repeatedly does irritating things.  These are a few examples of what most of us come up against at one time or another.  We will almost inevitably encounter these situations or something similar at some point. When we do, it's easy and very common to begin to believe that these unfortunate actions are aimed at you.  It's possible.  But, it's also possible that this person just lets off steam inappropriately or, in the current vernacular, "...   emits a pouf of toxicity..." just, randomly.  If you take it personally, it can poison your mood.  Pretty soon that person,  intentionally or not, has obtained a lot of power inside of your life.  (Have you noticed a big cloud of dark smoke in the middle of your house?!)  You find yourself ruminating about revenge, rehearsing in your head speeches you will make, imagining how you will vindicate yourself or defeat this other person, and discharging in long diatribes to your friends or spouse (or therapist) about this annoying individual. To let someone else's negativity affect you this way really is a choice.  That may be a  difficult idea to accept but if you do you will find that it is a very helpful one.  The most difficult of these scenarios is if the other person has legitimate authority over you as is the case where the poor behavior is perpetrated by your boss at work.  However, I think that, though more of a challenge, it is still possible to make the choice to not let this negative energy infect you.
So, how do you remain unperturbed?  1.  Take the other person's behavior as information.  Remain objective, not obsessed.  Don't allow yourself to be so strongly affected that obsession or depression result.2.  Remain aware always that you have choices.  Don't allow yourself to become enmeshed in a drama that feels out of control.3.  Ask clarifying questions (in your own mind, if need be) such as, "What is she doing?"  "What is his intention?"  "What's going on with her?"  In other words, instead of immediately becoming engaged and reacting, step back.  Take a step back, in your own mind, in relation to him or her.  Take a look at that person from your own point of reference.4.  Take a wait and see attitude5.  Maintain some objectivity, your own center, some distance, and your own integrity. Remember, that other person's sour state of mind will only affect yours if you let it.  

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