You know that person at work who drives you crazy? That friend who does something that makes you twitch every single time? Or the habit that, no matter how many times you mention it, your partner just won't break?
Listen to your body right now, how does it react when you think of those things - and how familiar is that feeling?
It seems counterintuitive at first but if we start asking 'what is my part in this?' instead of giving in to the temptation to stoke that anger, we might end up at a result much more like what we want to see.
Where are your patterns?
One of mine is being told what I 'should' be doing. The idea that someone knows better than me, about me, never fails to give me an automatic pang of defensiveness. These days I can see that happening more often and make a choice rather than biting back - but it's a sore spot.
Life has a way of showing you your sore spots and you might find that you keep meeting people or finding yourself in situations that end up up triggering them. Sometimes this can have us wondering why things are so hard, or why do people behave like this to me? but those questions can often be dead ends. More useful might be something like 'What pattern do I have here and how can I break it?'
Once you know that, it gives you a place to start. If you can follow that thread and commit to making a change - regardless of what the other person chooses to do - you are very likely to see a different result. The alternative is to focus on them and their behaviour, which is probably a result of all their own patterns and triggers and is completely unaffected by hours of you stewing on it.
There is a power in taking responsibility
Okay so maybe it doesn't feel great at first. If you suggest taking responsibility to anyone in blame mode, they won't thank you for it and we probably all know what it's like to be both sides of that.
The thing is, without taking responsibility you have no power at all. If the problem is with that person or with the rest of the world, what can you do to change it?
It's tricky but important to recognise that there might also be some comfort in staying powerless. It might mean that you don't need to do something that scares you or make a difficult decision. More often than not though, this is a false sense of safety.
If you look for your part in things, not only can you evaluate your own actions but you can let go of what really doesn't belong to you. That person is going to tell you what you should be doing? Okay, that's on them. How you handle it? That's all you, and you'll probably find that if you choose differently it will change how they interact with you in the first place.
When you accept your contribution you don't have to rely on what someone else says or does to feel good and you can also start to move away from what is holding you back. If you're feeling angry with them because you don't feel able to politely decline their unwanted advice, maybe there is a lesson there in expressing yourself and valuing the way you feel.
An inward focus can feel like it won't be productive but very often it can have the most practical impact because you are paying attention to the only thing you can really change.
It's not moments that matter the most
It's not about giving yourself a hard time if you get annoyed and have a good rant from time to time. None of us are going to reach a point where we never come up against some sore spots, no matter how much work we do.
It's more about taking the opportunities that other people's behaviour offers to look in the mirror. From there we can choose to take a conscious action or not. In the end laying blame with someone else or the world for how we feel can just be repetitive and exhausting.
Something I try to remind myself of - more and less successfully depending on the day! - is that sometimes you can't change the situation but there are literally hundreds of things you can do to change the way it feels.
I'm Jess, EFT Practitioner & mindfulness teacher, adoptive mum to two adorable little fireworks and a passionate advocate of the idea that change really is possible, no matter how far away it feels.