Other People Are Not the Problem.
By Nita Hyrkkänen
Unkind bosses, gossipy co-workers, jealous partners, rowdy neighbors, rude teenagers, whiny kids, bad drivers, grumpy checkout operators, meddling relatives, backstabbing friends, corrupt politicians… you know some of those people, don’t you?
Your life would be so much sweeter without them, right? I have a magical mantra that I use daily that works miracles when it comes to upsets and frustrations with other people. This: Other people are not the problem. Let me say it again: Other people are not the problem.
When I repeat this mantra often enough, I can feel my whole body sigh in relief. I relax. I let go. My mind stops staring at that same old brick wall in front of me and wanders off in search of brighter paths. Because you are not the problem either — you are the solution. Every time.
Believing that others are — or should be — responsible for your well-being leaves you helpless. When you notice that you’re pointing your finger at someone else as the source of your negative feelings, try the mantra. Let it remind you that you are someone who has a choice.
You will probably still be angry or sad at that point, but at least you’ve shifted the focus onto what you can do for yourself. You’ve reclaimed your power and it’s rightfully yours. Because you do care about how you feel — the other person may or may not.
When you say, “It’s their fault,” you’re really saying, “I can’t do anything to make myself feel better — they need to do it for me.” Can you afford to wait for other people to fix things for you?
Not only did I believe for a long time that it’s the responsibility of others to make sure that I feel good, but also that it is my responsibility to make sure that others feel good. Isn’t this how it should be? Isn’t that how any well-functioning society operates?
What happens when you try to make sure that others keep feeling good? You will fail. Over and over and over again. Even when you’re devotedly practicing the famous bending-over-backwards-asana, you can never anticipate accurately enough what another person wants of you.
Everyone expects different things. One person might expect different things over time. The result for me was a continuous fear of upsetting others, over-analyzing what I’ve said and how I’ve behaved and how I should go about fixing things if I had upset someone despite all my precautions.
One thing that is sure to piss others off is deciding not to be responsible for their feelings. But others will find a reason to be pissed off with you for one reason or another anyway — perhaps for being so damn annoying for trying to please all the time.
So you might as well not be on a constant guilt trip about it. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about others or be there for them. It certainly doesn’t mean going about hurting others on purpose.
It simply means acknowledging that you can never do enough for another person when they’re taking no responsibility for their own well-being. Everyone ultimately holds their own ticket to happiness, whether they choose to use it or not.
Certain things hurt, it’s true. If someone deliberately hurts you by actions or nasty words, it stings. But still other people are not the problem. Ultimately your own reaction to their words and actions is what leads you to freedom or a dead end.
It’s the only thing you have control over and the only thing that ultimately determines if you’re miserable or happy. Don’t wait for amends or an apology before you can feel good again. You may never know why they did what they did.
It’s best to acknowledge that they’re dealing with their own issues and ultimately are responsible for themselves, and that your issue is to set yourself free from the negative emotions that you’re experiencing. You don’t need anything from the other person in order to do that. Choose to let go.
Find the way to feel better regardless of your circumstances. It can be done.
While it’s impossible to avoid all negative incidences, we always have a choice on how we carry on afterwards. Even when something truly horrible happens, the rest of the story can fold out in very different ways and you choose how.
Festering with anger and self-pity day after day is not a good life. Feel your loss, your pain, your anger, your sorrow — then compost it. Plant the seeds of forgiveness and hope. Don’t abandon yourself because someone in their own pain slashed out at you. Don’t keep drinking that poison.
You are worth more than that, so much more. You deserve to be happy and free, give that gift to yourself. Then show others how to do it.
The more you feel in charge of your own internal environment, the more fearless you feel of what’s outside, the more able to see the world through the eyes of love and compassion.