Several months ago, I had a few extremely busy weeks where I was swamped with work, I was overwhelmed with elder care, and I was barely keeping things together on the home front. I felt super stressed, exhausted, and cranky. In trying to juggle everything I had on my plate, I was also neglecting my self-care (you know I’m a huge advocate for this!), which was making me even more irritable!
I found myself being really snippy to people around me — particularly to people I didn’t know. I was snapping at my Uber drivers, the checkout people at the drug store, the customer service person on the phone, and more. Because I knew this was bad behavior, I’d walk away feeling crappy about how I acted and I could hear the voice in my head lashing out at myself. Basically, I was self-flogging and it sounded like, “that was a crappy thing you did there, you’re a horrible human.”
Of course, I took this to my therapist and she said to me “Ritu, you choose how you treat others — even when you’re stressed.”
What a powerful a-ha moment this was for me because, well, it’s spot on! We often know when we’re being unpleasant and we can choose to alter our behavior. We can choose to not take our frustrations out on others. We can choose to communicate effectively with others. Even if we’re in a disagreement with someone, we have the power of choice in how to lead a difficult conversation or engage in conflict. In fact, how we speak to others can help build or wither relationships! And relationships are everything for life’s happiness. Whether it’s about how to find love, how to build trust, or how to communicate better at work, know that you choose how you treat people. And all of this impacts your ability to develop stronger relationships.
After having this a-ha moment, and reflecting on what my therapist told me, there are a few things that I now do when I find myself starting to get snappy with others. If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation when you’re stressed, you might also find this helpful.
Take a Pause
You’ll have heard me talk about the importance of taking more pauses in my blogs and videos. The simple act of deliberately slowing down by pausing before you say or do something can be so helpful in changing how you treat people. It allows you to stop for a quick moment to think about how you’re feeling, what you want to say, and how you want to say it — all before you actually share. Plus, it gives you a moment to focus on becoming more embodied which is so important. Essentially, by taking a pause in my interactions with others, I’m making better choices in how I treat others.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
I’ve also started to acknowledge and share that I am in a crappy mood. I will say to myself, “You’re on edge right now. You’re feeling frazzled and that’s because you’re stressed.” By being more honest and authentic with myself about what I’m feeling, I’m now better able to shift my energy to self-care practices that will help me to feel better. And these self-care practices ultimately bring me to a place where I can make better choices in how I treat others and myself.
Explore How You Want to Treat Others
The final practice I’ve started to use in moments when I’m feeling edgy and taking it out on others is reflecting on how I want the person to feel once I leave our interaction. Wow, what an eye-opening self-reflection exercise for changing how I treat others! Here are a few questions that I ask myself in moments of stress:
When I remind myself that I don’t want to make people feel crappy, I am very kind.
As I’m writing this blog, I have a bazillion things on my plate right now and, yup, I’m feeling cranky! But because of the practices I mentioned above, I’m being extra mindful about my interactions with others. And I feel good about this: knowing that I’m being kind in how I’m choosing to treat others. It’s about the interconnectedness of being.
The next time you’re feeling frazzled, what will you do to check in with yourself to ensure that you’re being more mindful in your interactions? What strategies will you use to alter how you choose to treat others?
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