There are some people I'd rather slap than smile at.
The problem is, these irritating people won't go away. They're at work, in our neighborhood, in our churches and even in our families.
So, how do we deal with the people we'd rather, well... slap.
1. Remember they are a film strip not a snapshot
It's easy for us to justify our own actions and attitudes because we think back to something someone else did or how someone else made us feel. How we were helpless or victimized. We had no other choice or we were tired, or they had it coming.
On the other hand, when we look at someone else's bad behavior, we fail to realize that they have their reason as well. It may be irrational but let's face it, not all our justifications are rational either.
I find that I am much more forgiving when I give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their actions and their attitudes. I have to remind myself that I only know half of the story. I only see the result. I don't see the events that lead up to their bad decisions of offensive behavior.
Also, keeping in mind that I have no idea what they are going through in that moment. I could get angry because a co-worker walked right past me without saying good morning, or, I could consider the fact that he may be going through a divorce, maybe caring for a parent with cancer or struggling to control a rebellious teenager.
If you see other people's lives as a film strip instead of a snapshot, you will have more empathy, less stress and better relationships.
2. They didn't make you do it
Remember that jerk that almost hit you on the highway because he was texting & driving? He didn't make you mad. He pulled out in front of you and you chose to be mad.
The only power others have over your emotions is the power you give them.
That's not to say that you shouldn't have emotions. It's just that you shouldn't let other people (especially people you don't like) dictate your emotions.
When you take responsibility for your emotional reactions you are less likely to feel like a victim and act like a martyr.
3. If you were them...
Abe Lincoln would say this when he couldn't find a way to agree with another person. The truth is, if you woke up in their body and had the exact same memories and experiences as the person you disagree with, you would likely do and feel the same way.
This idea has helped me let go of constantly judging other people and helps me remember that I am as human as they are. If I can forgive myself for my mistakes, the least I can do is forgive others for theirs.
When you realize that you are just as human as everyone else and people cannot possibly share the same point of view, you are free to explore many different vantage points and even see your own misconceptions more clearly.
4. Their response is not your identity.
It has always been easy for me to attach my identity to the way people respond to me. That has always been a bad plan. Once I realized that the bad behavior of others is often times more about them than me, I was able to stop taking it personally and see it for what it really was.
Sometimes, it's my fault and I've done something to damage or undermine the relationship. Other times, it has noting to do with me. Knowing who and am and where my identity comes from helps me to see the issue for what it really is and take action to deal with it.