“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. With this realization comes forgiveness, compassion, peace. The ego doesn’t like to hear this, because if it cannot be reactive and righteous anymore, it will lose strength.” Eckhart Tolle
Sometimes people piss me off, especially selfish or ignorant people who have little to no regard for others or awareness of how their actions impact others. To the person that hit my less-than-a-month-old car and drove off without leaving a note, yes, I am talking to you. There are around seven billion of us trying to coexist on this beautiful planet, and sometimes people need a little reminder that we’re all in this together. We’re all connected whether you an aware of it or not.
I try and live a mindful existence, aware of my thoughts, my speech and actions. I understand that cultivating a peaceful life means being present and living in the Now. Yet despite my efforts, people can and do piss me from time to time. I am a human being after all and I am not immune to irritation. And undoubtedly, I’m the source of annoyance for others too, I’m sure my husband can attest to that. 😉
Thankfully, getting annoyed with people is happening less frequently for me these days and when it does happen, I see it as the perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness. When a stranger treats others or myself with blatant disregard, I get really annoyed. My annoyance and ego will flare up instantaneously and I’ll judge them. I might think, what an asshole! Such a selfish prick! It arises so suddenly that I feel helpless to stop it. Thankfully, stopping such thoughts isn’t the goal of mindfulness. Awareness is.
The fact that you can identify unhelpful thoughts is paramount. If I can catch my ego having a rant, the mere act of being aware of it can take the wind out of its sails. I can apply some metacognition and change my ‘what an asshole’ dialogue to something like ‘He/She is doing the best they can. They don’t know any better.’ And the irritation simply dissolves.
I often remind myself of what Deepak Chopra says, “people are doing the best that they can from their own level of consciousness.” That gives me comfort and enables me to show some much needed compassion. For the most part, people aren’t inherently assholes, they’re doing the best they can with the level of consciousness they have attained at this time. I can also apply this compassion to myself; I don’t need to live a perfectly equanimous life, although it would be nice. I need to live an unequivocally mindful one.