The past couple of months, I have really struggled with becoming frustrated with everybody around me. My roommates, the people in my group project, my best friend – everyone seems to set me on edge. Since I usually pride myself in being very understanding and patient, it’s made me even more frustrated when I find myself becoming this impatient and irritable person. I despised this road I was heading down. So I had to ask myself – how do I turn around?
Finally recognizing that I’ve been gravitating towards these negative thoughts and allowing my anger to overtake me has been the first step in turning around my attitude. Gaining control of my emotional state made me feel much more secure in myself. I started being aware of my emotions and checking myself every time I felt that anger bubbling up inside of me. When I felt myself losing control, I was aware of it. Usually, it was caused by a very silly matter – the members of my group project weren’t responding to my emails or my roommate left her dirty dishes out on the table. Why would I allow these silly, small things have so much control over me?
The biggest revelation for me was grasping the fact that I cannot control what other people do – only my reaction to what they do. Letting go of control of other people allowed me to gain control over myself.
I focused on reacting much kinder and simpler. My mom’s favorite thing to say to me is, “Be calm.” There is no malicious intent behind my roommate leaving her dirty dishes out. She does not mean to harm me or anybody. Taking her actions personally is what fired me up. I found myself becoming defensive and angry at her – which we all know is counterproductive. When I took a step back and reassessed how I should handle the situation, my mindset drastically changed. Nobody wants to listen to the nagging of an angry roommate. When I addressed her kindly, calmly, and nonchalantly, she was much more receptive to my feedback than she would if I had come at her, guns smoking. Treating others with respect and giving them the benefit of the doubt allows many more positive thoughts to flow into your mind and the negativity to be pushed out.
The next simple strategy I used was simply being silent. I am a natural leader – I do not shy away from delegating tasks, confronting people, or being firm. However, sometimes it is more appropriate to sit back and allow others to be in control. In group projects, I usually am the one to assign people jobs, make sure everybody else completes their tasks, and figure everything out. This most recent group project of mine, I sat back and listened as somebody else took on that role. It was excruciating at first, but then it became a relief and I found myself able to relax. When I give up control of what others do, I gain control of myself. I find that listening to people and staying silent instead of constantly sharing my opinion is just as beneficial. I find that when you really listen to people, they like you better. I find that when you give somebody else the reigns, they will usually surprise you and do just as good of a job as you. Being silent is not to be weak; it is to be strong enough to appreciate the silence and the ideas of others. You will be shocked at what you will learn and how much more you hear when you’re not focused on what you’re going to say next.
Finally, I have begun practicing active positive thinking. By consciously forcing myself to have positive thoughts, it has become a habit. I go on Pinterest and search for inspirational quotes. I post them on my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I share positive news with others. I look on the bright side. I look for the good in everyone. When I hear somebody complaining about something or someone, I try to help them see the positive side of the issue. When I think positive, negative feelings such as frustration and anger have a much more difficult time controlling me.