Don't Let Someone Else Take Your Peace of Mind: 4 options for mindfully dealing with others

"Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace" -Dalai Lama

When someone pushes our buttons, it's hard not to automatically react. When another person says or does something we don't like, we might feel angry, upset, or anxious. Our automatic "mindless"reaction to that feeling might be to yell at the person, make a snide comment, or avoid the person altogether. Using mindfulness tools, rather than automatically reacting, we can learn to choose a meaningful response. Since this is very difficult in the moment, the first step in mindfulness is often to simply STOP and take a pause before reacting. This may be a few moments or a few days if needed. In the pause, you may take some deep breaths and allow your feelings to pass by like a wave. (Practice the Calming Difficult Feelings Meditation here.) Once calm, you can mindfully choose how to respond in a way that is in line with your intention for the relationship.

What is in your control?

The first step in choosing how to respond to any situation, is identifying the aspects of the situation that are within your control. Clearly, you can't control another person. As much as we'd like to, we can't make another person think, feel, or behave in a certain way. All you can control is your response to the other person.

The framework for a Mindful Relationship = Intention + Boundaries. Your intention and your boundaries are both within your control. If you know your intention for a particular relationship and you know what your boundaries are with the other person, then you have a framework to guide your response.

Setting Your Intention for a Relationship

To clarify your intention for a relationship, ask yourself questions like, what kind of relationship do I want with this person? Is this person capable of that kind of relationship? Given this person's limitations, what would I like the relationship to look like going forward? What would I like our time together to be about? What kind of friend/partner/family member do I want to be?

Since you can't control the other person's intention or behavior, you'll notice the questions are about who you want to be in the relationship. Your intention may be:

  • to be a loving, supportive family member

  • to preserve a positive work environment with a co-worker

  • to be an accepting partner