Do you know how to prevent arguments, divorce, co-worker tension, or the death of a friendship?
The answer is simple: Allow others to be a total fool for ten minutes a day.
The point is that no one is perfect. All of us will do many things, every single day, to drive other people up the wall. By forgiving the faults, we're likely to have a smoother life experience.
"I used to correct my ex-boyfriend's grammar," says a newspaper reporter we'll call Kim. "Oh, how I got on his nerves. I look back now and wonder what the heck was wrong with me?!"
It's a sure bet that other people will get you riled up, if you're around them quite a bit. There's no way around the clashing and dramatic events of human beings.
While a sense of humor helps, that often won't work. You can't really laugh at other people's mistakes or hurtful words, but you can flip the channel and zone out. Wait for a good bit and tune back in. Chances are, a lot of the tension will be gone.
Here are some quick tips for coping:
-- Don't throw fuel on the fire. For example, if your sister makes a comment about something you did in the past, don't hurl a similar comment back. Just take a few deep breaths.
-- Add some physical distance. If you're angry with your spouse, take a long walk or go to a movie by yourself.
-- Suggest an activity you would both enjoy. A friend of ours says taking their boat out on the lake helps her and her husband calm down. A new focus can reduce a lot of stress.
"I once got into a quarrel with my wife on the Fourth of July," says an associate of ours we'll call Phillip. "My wife was enthusiastically hugging a good-looking guy. I mistook him for an old boyfriend. In fact, this guy had the same first name as her old boyfriend."
Phillip went on to say the guy making him jealous was someone else altogether. "It was her nephew, who is the same age as my wife! I'd never met him. God, I felt like a total fool after I calmed down."
It does pay to wait when we want to scream. We always have the option to react later, if there is a reason to jump someone.
"My dad used to punish us severely," says a man we'll call Henry. "With my kids, I wait at least 15 minutes before I dole out a punishment sentence. I sure don't jump in when I'm really angry. I figure it's okay to overlook some craziness. I want them to love me in my old age!"
A nurse we know, whom we'll call Jeannie, says her husband made her angry several times a day for years. Finally, they found out he had severe blood sugar problems, which makes anyone irritable.
"You don't want to allow other people to abuse you," says Jeannie, "but I'm glad I didn't tell my husband off the way I wanted to. We likely would be divorced by now. But, he's doing great now that his health is better. His mood swings are almost gone."
By deciding ahead of time that you'll overlook faults in others, you're keeping your own life more peaceful. By skipping drama, it's a sure bet that you won't make anything worse.
(Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe at www.usawellnesscafe.com. Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)
(c)2017 Person to Person
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