5 Ways to Find Serenity Now
Do you typically sail along through your days, feeling content and able to take life’s challenges in stride, but all it takes is a mopey or disgruntled attitude from your life partner and you ﬁnd yourself in a downward spiral? Does this happen to you when your boss, your parent, or child is in a less than pleasant mood? Maybe you are caring for an aging parent or someone with a chronic illness and often the mood at home is strained or unhappy. You may ﬁnd yourself wishing the other person would just get over it or at least put on a happy face and make life easier for you and everyone else concerned. Do you need some serenity now?
Wouldn’t Life be Simpler?
Sometimes, it seems that life would be a lot simpler if people were more like computers. Think “The Stepford Wives”. If you don’t like the program (mood) running on your boss’s internal computer, it could be uninstalled and replaced with something more to your liking. Heck, why stop there, if you’re not happy with someone’s physical appearance, if people were like computers, you could move the programs and hardware to another more attractive outer case. Maybe your partner has an addiction you want to make disappear or perhaps he/she is irritable and difﬁcult to get along with. That’s easy to resolve because you could either defrag their internal hard-drive or just install a new one.
Yes, life would be a lot simpler… or would it? What if your partner doesn’t like your programs or your physical appearance or what if your best friend wants to yank out your hard-drive and give you a new one? Thankfully, we are not computers and truthfully, I think life would be pretty boring if we were all machines.
Since people are not computers, but are individual, unique beings, it would beneﬁt us to ﬁnd ways to relate to each other that respect and acknowledge each person’s right to be who they are and show up in life the way they choose to show up. So what can you do to prevent someone else’s ill mood from ruining your day? I’m not convinced unless you want to go live in a monastery, that there is a way for us ordinary humans to totally prevent someone else’s mood from impacting us in some way, but I do believe we can minimize the effect others have on our inner landscape.
5 Ways to Find Serenity Now
Everyone is entitled to their feelings
To get along better, we must accept that the other person has a right to feel the way they do, think the way they do and to behave the way they behave. It doesn’t mean we have to like the other person’s behavior and it certainly doesn’t mean we have to hang around while they have their melt-down or pity party. We don’t have to take their behavior personally, either. If you ﬁnd it difﬁcult to let the other person have their feelings without it impacting the way you feel, putting some physical distance between you might help. Go for a walk, go into another room and read a book or listen to music, take a nap or do anything else that gives you a temporary reprieve from the other person or situation.
You cannot change other people
We do not have the power to change another person. The only person we have the power to change is ourselves. Most of us know this, but we tend to practice the opposite. People treat us the way we teach them to treat us. If you ﬁnd you are always giving in to your partner’s melt-downs or silent treatment, you have taught them that is the way to manipulate you and to get their way. The next time you feel yourself giving in to bad behavior; observe how you instinctively react. Is there another way to handle the situation that would be more compassionate and allow everyone to feel respected without giving in or giving up?
Real change takes place inside us
For many people, it is a lot easier to point a ﬁnger at another person and blame them for their discomfort than it is to look inward at their own thoughts and beliefs. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying that when you point your ﬁnger at someone else, there are three ﬁngers pointing back at you.
The most effective way to bring about change is to change the way you see the person or the situation. The way to do that is to acknowledge what your personal thoughts and ideas are about the situation. What assumptions are you making? In most cases, we are layering our own ideas about how things should be done or what we believe to be true over the conversation or event.
For example, I recently heard a woman complaining that people had turned their backs on her; no one calls to see how she is doing. In effect, she was pointing her ﬁnger at others and making them wrong, inconsiderate and responsible for her feelings. Another way for her to look at the situation would be to say to herself, “I haven’t talked to Julie in a few weeks, I think I’ll call her up to see what is going on in her life!”.
Do you feel the difference in those two completely different ways of looking at the same situation? In the ﬁrst example, the woman is playing the role of a victim, in the second, she is taking ownership of the situation and taking action.
Set healthy boundaries
Recognize that outside disturbances (someone else’s bad mood) cannot get inside and upset us, unless we make a choice to let them inside. Healthy boundaries are the answer to keeping other people’s feelings from getting inextricably intertwined with our own and confusing us. Unhealthy boundaries are rigid or non-existent. Healthy boundaries are ﬂexible.
Healthy boundaries can be compared to a flexible mesh-like water ﬁlter that allows clear, clean water to ﬂow through, but traps impurities and keeps them out. When we have healthy boundaries, we are present, connected and compassionate with the people in our lives, we know who we are, we are responsible for our behaviors, and we allow others to be responsible for their behaviors. We standby our boundaries and we are prepared to let others know in a calm manner, when they cross those boundaries.
People do not need to be “fixed”
It is not your job to “ﬁx” the other person because they are not broken. Some people confuse compassion and helpfulness with boundary-busting behaviors. We’ve all done it, rushed in to do something for someone without stopping to ask what they wanted or needed. We knew what we would want and so we just assumed we knew what they wanted. Maybe we were surprised that the person we “helped” got angry at us or didn’t seem grateful for our help.
If your partner, boss, parent, child or friend is behaving in a way that you ﬁnd disturbing, chances are they just need a little time to adjust their thoughts. Hovering over them, trying to ﬁx them or the issue, or badgering them to talk to you about it, will most likely bring about results that you do not want.
What Else Can You Do?
Ultimately, you only have control over you, so make sure you are taking good care of yourself. If you are tired, sleep. Eat when you are hungry. If you are feeling distressed and anxious, do something to relax. If you need to talk it out, ﬁnd someone safe to talk with. Someone who will keep your conversation private, or you can “brain dump” your feelings in a journal.
Where we get ourselves tangled up is when we believe that life is supposed to always go smoothly, that we are not supposed to have trials or challenges. There is no special skill needed to be happy, peaceful and content when things are going well. When we are in the midst of money problems, health issues and other adversities, it takes a conscious effort to get ourselves into a calm and creative mindset. That is where real growth happens and we learn to let go of drama and replace it with strength and resilience.
We all possess an inner resilience, but many of us have forgotten how strong and capable we really are. I went through much of my life not knowing how much strength and resilience I had inside. Looking back over my past experiences, I realize I had more courage, strength and resilience than I gave myself credit for. My guess is you may be selling yourself short in that area as well.