Have you ever known someone who irritated the hell out of you because of how they acted or spoke or treated you?
You know... you're brushing your teeth or driving and you're reading them off in your mind -- sometimes talking right out loud, fighting and telling them exactly what you think.
I've had this trouble at various times both personally and professionally. I hated how those running dialogues and stories of resentment were always with me. I wanted to be free of them and have some peace. So I worked to get rid of them.
Here are four ways to change your obsessive bad thoughts about other people and be happy.
It doesn't mean you have to like the person. It doesn't mean you have to make them change. Your criticisms might be 100 percent correct, but you do owe it to yourself and them to see the truth. And that will always make you free -- ending the war of inner thoughts and resentment.
1. Build a list of things you respect about the person.
It's NOT IMPOSSIBLE! Start simple:
- Do they hold down a job?
- Did they graduate from school?
- Do they get to work on time?
- What knowledge and skills do they have?
- What are they good at?
If you come up with one thing you respect, you're on your way. Do it every time they push your buttons and soon you'll be surprised at the number of sincere and deep things you really do respect about them.
The purpose is to shift your negative, stressful, painful thoughts into positive, healthy ones.
Here are 10 things I respect about a person I disliked and worked with for six years:
She speaks two languages -- has two college degrees -- volunteers helping senior citizens -- is a published writer -- saves money and lives on a budget -- knows grammar -- loyal to friends -- creative and artistic -- dresses professionally -- mentors people.
Respect always counters anger, replacing it with pleasing, good thoughts.
2. Step into their shoes.
Pass over disliking them and go deep into thinking about who they are and why they do what they do? Get inside them.
It's not easy to see what another person feels but by trying you're consciously changing your thoughts against them into thoughts of understanding for them.
The truth about someone gives you peace. It lessens your own anger and pain and allows you to accept them as they are.
I worked with a man who did anything to make a fast buck. He went after your clients, cut deals and undermined you. I hated how he was and so I started to figure out why he acted this way.
I discovered he was a single father working to put his daughter through school. Nothing was more important to him than raising his daughter well and... he worked hard and was a really good dad. Knowing this changed me and no matter how he was I held on to these two facts that he was helping someone he loved.
While I didn't approve of his actions my anger changed. I was surprised because I started having empathy and understanding for him. Knowing who he was helped me to have peace of mind and heart. I saw he was doing the very best he knew how.
3. What can you learn from them about yourself and the world?
Once two people I trusted stole money from me. I detested them for taking advantage of me. People in the community heard of my trouble and I learned I was not alone. They came forward with care, telling their own experiences with these con artists.
• I learned about good and evil. That evil can be charming and good doesn't matter to some folk.
• I learned that greed is addictive; like a drug for some and what a bad effect it will have on you.
• I learned how vital personal honor is. If you sell it out you have nothing.
• I learned to forgive myself for trusting them; for being fooled by their fake, friendly manners.
• I learned that I have a solid hope they could change, make new choices and live a decent life.
• I learned that trust is a permanent part of my nature and I'm proud I continue to trust people
Accuracy and learning the facts helps change how you think about people. You can see evil for what it is. Accept it and never be afraid.
Spiritual psychologists Ron & Mary Hulnick express it this way in their course
33 Days of Awakening:
Acceptance doesn't mean you have to like what is. And it doesn't mean you have to agree with what is ... It simply means that you're not at war with what is ... you come into Cooperation with what is, and then you decide how you choose to respond. It's important to realize that your liking or disliking something has absolutely no effect on whatever that something is. But it sure has a lot to do with what's going on inside of you ... for when you are in Acceptance, you are in a state of peace.
4. How are they like you?
Sometimes the reason we don't like a person is because they remind us of ourselves.
If they're egotistical, insulting, negative, cheap, cruel and it gets to you, ask yourself Where am I like that?
I try avoiding gossip and talking against people. When it happens I make another choice by seeing a small way of thinking or talking doesn't stand for the best thing in others or myself. We all have greater value to offer the world.
When you see yourself as like other people, not different and not superior, you stop judging and kindness and personal gratitude increases because you see how you want to be all the time.
One last thought: How do other people see you?