Sometimes it can be difficult to go throughout your day without getting upset or annoyed with someone. Sometimes people are rude or disrespectful or know exactly how to push your buttons.
Well, that’s exactly what happened with a good friend of mine and my shidoshi (teacher of teachers), and my friend (we’ll call him Johnny) learned a valuable lesson from my shidoshi that he passed on to me.
My shidoshi has passed on, leaving the human experience and returning to the void. Sadly, I was only able to talk to him a grand total of two times, but those conversations are ones that I will never forget.
My shidoshi was the white tiger. He even looked like one with his white hair, sharp nails, and piercing blue eyes. I sat, mystified and almost hypnotized, by the white tiger as I listened to his wisdom. Even his teeth looked sharp, or was that my teenage imagination?
One day my sensei took my friend Johnny, who was also his student, to meet shidoshi.
Now, Johnny has always been a scrapper. Starting brawls and being hardcore were two of Johnny’s favorite things to do. Perhaps shidoshi sensed Johnnys’s hot-headedness and so he decided to test Johnny’s limits.
Johnny told me that shidoshi would put down everything that Johnny said, criticizing and insulting him. Naturally, Johnny’s anger started to boil up until finally, with steam coming out of his ears and red in the face he said, “why you talkin’ shit, old man?”
I’ll always admire Johnny’s bravery, for I would never have done such a thing after hearing so many legends about the white tiger. However, shidoshi reacted calmly. “I’m just an old man talking shit,” he said. “You have to allow me to disturb you.”
The message was so simple and powerful and yet profound, but I didn’t realize it’s full extent until I started putting that philosophy into practice. Realizing this simple truth is the gateway to living a more peaceful and less emotionally turbulent life.
I used to get upset at other people when I was driving, getting cut off or having to avoid a dangerous driver. I used to get upset when people are ignorant or rude or inconsiderate. Now, I realize most of those people are just ignorant or assholes and that I shouldn’t allow them to disturb my inner peace because I cannot change them so getting upset is a waste of time and energy.
I refuse to get caught in their world of anger and turmoil. Letting the wave of negativity flow past me, I remain stable like the rock. I resolved not to let others disturb me. If it won’t matter tomorrow, or in a week or even a month, then why let it ruin the present moment?
Not allowing others to disturb you sounds a bit impossible to some people. “I can’t help getting angry when someone does something stupid or rude,” they’d say, or the classic, “its their fault that I’m upset.”
I’d argue that those people enjoy being angry or getting upset. I know, and I’m sure you know, those whom love to complain and talk about how inferior everyone else is. If they want to be upset, let them. If you want to live a happier, more peaceful life, then don’t let others disturb you.
It’s easy to let someone ruin your day, but it’s also easy to blow things off and continue having a good day despite what others are doing.
Now, before we discuss ways of not letting others disturb you let me clarify and say that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to be disturbed by others and sometimes it’s altogether unavoidable. It’s perfectly reasonable to be upset if someone were to use violence against you for instance and should not be tolerated or allowed, but that’s not what this message is addressing.
So if your inner peace is disturbed pause and observe how, and more importantly, why you are reacting in the way that you are. Ask yourself why you are experiencing that emotion and if you are justified in feeling that way.
I am not trying to give emotion a negative connotation because I know that emotions have much to teach us, but we must also not let emotion control us. So the next time you feel an emotional flare-up, instead of letting it take you, observe the emotion, it’s causes, and justification for feeling that way.
So if you find your inner peace being disturbed by some asshole, remember, they’re just an asshole and you can’t change them so don’t waste your precious time and energy being upset about something you cannot change.
Techniques for controlling your emotional state in situations like this are:
1. Refuse to physically express the emotion which is disturbing your inner peace.
2. Refuse to dwell upon the thoughts or mental images that are associated with or support the emotion that you deem objectionable.
EXAMPLE 1: You are driving to work and a random asshole aggressively speeds up and cuts you off. You feel anger flare up in your chest. Instead of making an angry face and yelling at someone who can’t hear you or would even care, you realize that being upset about the situation does nothing to serve you and smile and wave at the person and then turn up your jams and sing along. Any thought or mental image associated with that asshole is banished and replaced with thoughts of you going to work and totally crushing your day.
EXAMPLE 2: Your significant other does something small that annoys you. Instead of clenching your fists and saying something mean you pause and breathe. You observe your anger and decide that whatever it was that annoyed you isn’t worth starting any conflict. You understand that letting the feeling pass means that you can spend more time enjoying each other and so you stop dwelling on whatever they did and make a joke or start a new conversation.
For more information on emotional control read: