From time to time, we all have to interact with people who cause our stress & anxiety levels to rise. It might be a manager who asks for something to be delivered in a timeframe that feels impossible, someone who's personality clashes with our own or perhaps someone who you usually get along with but, for some reason, you didn't during your last interaction.
Eckhart Tolle wrote, “If her past were your past, her pain your pain, her level of consciousness your level of consciousness, you would think and act exactly as she does."
What this can tell us is that people (and that includes you and me!) speak, think and act primarily based on their past conditioning, i.e. because of how they were raised and the past events that have happened in their lives (either positive or negative) - many of which were probably outside of their direct control.
Does that mean that people can't change? I think that they can. But, right now in this moment, they speak and act in a particular way because of these conditions. This is true of you, it's true of me, it's true of everyone.
On one level, just appreciating and accepting this can help to create understanding and empathy with others and foster more harmonious relationships. However, it's not such an easy thing to remember this day-to-day, for example in the middle of a stressful conversation!
This is where mindfulness meditation can help. One of the benefits of mindfulness meditation - when practiced regularly - is that it can help to create a space around what you hear/observe from others.
In essence it can improve your ability to choose how to respond rather than simply reacting.
Fostering this capability can improve your own stress & anxiety levels and those of the people you're interacting with. It can help to defuse situations and help you to live a life that feels just that little bit easier.
Take a moment to think about the tools and techniques you currently use today to help you respond with more kindness and more effectively when talking to others? Let me know by posting a comment below.
In future posts, I'll be providing some techniques, tools and guided meditations of my own to help build your mindfulness muscle.
(This post was inspired by an article written on the Wildmind community. Full credit for the initial idea/concept goes to Bodhipaksa @ Wildmind)