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Other People's Behavior is Not Your Problem but Your Need to Fix Them is

When people are upset, they immediately look for someone to blame. It’s natural for our brains to “protect” us by pointing the finger at someone else’s behavior and fixate on changing them. However, while someone’s behaviors can trigger negative feelings in you, it doesn’t mean you should try to change someone else.

If you have children, a partner, or family members that annoys you, you may find it difficult to extend understanding. Instead, we jump to accusations, blaming them for your bad mood, bad day, or inability to be successful. Many couples come to counseling with the intention to “fix” their spouse’s problem rather than working on their personal reaction to an annoying or frustrating situation.

In life you cannot fix anyone but yourself. Constantly looking for offenders is a good way to make yourself miserable and alone. This doesn’t mean you should act like a doormat or stay silent, but you must understand that your way is not the only right way; that requires insight and self-awareness. Below are five exercises that will help you stay in control while gaining personal growth.

1. Become aware of your triggers. Everyone has personal triggers that annoy or frustrate them. Some people like loud know-it-all’s and others are intimidated by them. When someone annoys you, focus on why it’s negative for you. Did someone in your family do that while you were growing up? Once you have this understanding, you’ll be less likely to react negatively to it and it will be easier to classify and ignore them.

2. Determine the relationship’s value to you. If it’s a difficult stranger, there is less reason to give the behavior any attention. If it’s a loved one or a child, calming yourself down first and then talking to them about the behavior and why it’s frustrating can often be enough for both of you to brainstorm ways to compromise.

3. Staying calm works to your advantage. Most people are struggling with something in life, causing them to act out in some way. When they realize they are annoying you and have your negative attention, it makes them feel more vindicated. When you stay calm in a heated discussion or with their annoying behavior, you demonstrate that they have no power or influence over you.

4. Detach emotionally from the difficult person. If you are stuck with a difficult person in your life, quickly learn not to take their words personally. Do what you need to do to stay detached when things get heated, whether it’s reciting all 50 states or going over your to-do list. If it’s a child, re-direct their behavior. If it’s a partner, talk to them when you aren’t distracted or angry.

5. Take time to consider your own annoying and frustrating behaviors. Everyone has them. Sometimes we are stubborn, self-righteous, and want our own way. Humans make mistakes, so make it a conscious effort to give them the same grace others have given you when you’ve been in the wrong or difficult.

Life is difficult, and everyone struggles with something. Connection is more important than being right. When you know your own triggers and you can feel them being pushed, focus on what you can do that will make the situation better. Sometimes that means silently removing yourself from the situation.


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