Welcome to this weekly online resource. Wellness professional Jo Foster, offers self care tips through her insights on mindfulness and positive psychology, her weekly online yoga classes and nutritious recipe recommendations.
This week we will be looking at how we create a healthy immunity to the moods of others. Enjoy!
Consider this scenario, you are busy minding you own business reading the local news when your partner/flatmate/sibling wanders into the room. You look up, smile and say "hi!".
In response, with a frown and abrupt tone, "hi" is returned. Clearly they are not in a good mood!
What's your first thought, is it:
A: "what have I done?" or
B: "what's bothering them?".
If it's A, then this is personalisation and you have just attempted to take ownership and responsibility for another persons feelings. This regretfully is a little bit selfish, it's somewhat "me, me me".
Option B is a more optimistic approach, one that may carry some personal responsibility but doesn't take generalised ownership of a negative situation. For example, if "what's bothering them?" was followed by "maybe they've discovered I used their razor and are annoyed!" then this may unravel, the truth will come out and it's time to "fess-up" and apologise. You move on from this easily with no lingering consequences.
However, if the story continued under scenario A then you may take the blame and become an outlet for the other party's stresses and emotions. You take on their challenges as your own, challenges that you cannot overcome as they are not "yours". The conversation ends with you feeling deflated as you sacrificed your own self worth in this scenario. You assumed their belief was more important that yours.
We each have our own values, thoughts, opinions and judgements and these can shape how we see the world. Sharing these views is often the source of joy. We find others who have a similar sense of humour and values, we relate to them. We may be inspired by people with different observations in life and learn from others with diverse experiences, but there will always be those with differences of opinion that we cannot necessarily share or reconcile with. In these differences conflict can arise, but the conflict is not about "you", it is about a differing in beliefs. beliefs that are their right.
Some beliefs may be considered innocuous, such as ""it is it is essential to arrange the dishwasher in size and type order", (a point that perhaps you can agree to disagree on, or that one party might compromise on!?). But there are beliefs that we may be less willing to concede on such as, ethics, religion and the law. However consider that, to the degree that it is lawful and just, if you can respect another's differing beliefs and opinions then you preserve values on both sides and you also remove the need to defend or magnify conflict. Does the verdict of right and wrong always need to be dealt, can we settle for different in some instances?
Mutual respect enables us to become immune to "taking it personally". We can become more understanding of another persons moods and emotions without being so affected by them. We are more willing to ask the question, without any tone of defence, but rather with kindness, "what's bothering you?". The conversation can then move forward with understanding, patience and empathy.
Not "taking it personally" is the optimists way of getting out of conflict. It is not the same as backing away from responsibility or compromising personal value, in fact it is the opposite. It is taking responsibility for your value, your actions and the consequences. Another persons choices and beliefs are their own, they form their value, they are their responsibility, not yours.
If you fancy considering this philosophical subject more, then a little book on Toltec Wisdom called "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz is worth reading. It's wise advice may inspire in a few light bulb moments!
This weeks recipe isn't about vitamins, rather the health benefits of cake are achieved through pleasure and happiness!
Cake is of course to be enjoyed in moderation. If we can enjoy the "good stuff" without guilt, then we develop a healthier and more steady relationship with our overall diet. So eat and be merry!