I wish someone had told me this years ago. I have used this technique recently every time I have felt a rising sense of injustice or anger at somebody else’s words or behaviour. Anger is the number one emotion to avoid at all costs- simply because it is the quickest way to destroy all logic and sense of peace. Thus, you end up saying words you regret in retaliation and before you know it you’re in a full-blown confrontation which could take days (and in some cases even longer) to resolve.
Anger was my ugliest look. And I have shown that face to the people I love the most with very little consideration, but since discovering mindfulness, gratitude and undertaking a gradual journey to a more spiritual way of living I am far more conscious of what sort of person I really want to be. I know this sounds a bit *away with the fairies* for those who aren’t really into ‘spirituality’- but hear me out.
If I think about the ways I want people to describe me…. angry, confrontational or short-tempered is not the desired description. More like, thoughtful, considerate, and logical. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no means promoting ‘doormat syndrome’ – you do not deserve to be walked over. But a respectful discussion is far more progressive than an outright attack-defence-WW3 approach.
Naturally, my solution to avoiding conflict is cultivating a deep sense of gratitude. The person’s words may infuriate me beyond belief but love and gratitude is the only response. How do I do it? Quite simply, if I can walk away for some space I will. With this space, I will find something to write on; my mobile, a notebook, an old envelope, anything. Then I will write 5 reasons I am grateful for that person right off the top of my head. Often the people we show our ugly anger to the most are the people we love the most, so finding reasons to be grateful for them should be relatively easy.
I cannot put into words the effect this small but deliberate control of thoughts has on my brain. It’s like it is rewired immediately to take the high road and avoid an argument. You start thinking ‘I don’t want to argue with this person, I am so grateful for them for all of these reasons!’ Then, when you face them again you are showing your glowing side, your best self; the part of you that isn’t easily sucked into dark places.
This method is even true for people that you do not regard as a loved one. In some way, the person that has irritated you beyond reason (your manager, your landlord, a petty internet troll, etc), is contributing something new and beneficial into your life. There are no coincidences or accidents in this life when it comes to our paths crossing with other people. They are here to teach you something, open your eyes to a new perspective, deepen your sense of gratitude for your own life, increase your empathy for others, etc.
If I am unable to walk away, I will simply list the reasons in my head or even begin the conversation with why I am grateful for them before breaching the issue at hand. Already there is respect and appreciation in the conversation which is a great way to start resolving an issue.
Gratitude really is your best friend in these situations.
It’s as simple as that! Do you agree?