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Feel like being patient with people is hard? Skip that thing entirely.

To be fair, I am not a qualified expert on being patient when people get annoying. But I have identified a little trick on navigating the messy territory which I feel like sharing with you.

Here’s the hack: Don’t be patient when people push you. Be compassionate.

Why compassion over patience you ask? Let’s start with definitions.

According to Merriam Webster, patience is defined as “bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint.”

Man that is hard. Sounds like a forceful chore. Resisting an urge or temptation is hard. Habit studies always conclude on how “resisting” something is actually a bad technique to practicing better habits. There’s no sense of satisfaction in holding an urge. You actually turn quite stiff.

Compassion on the other hand gives you an actual internal gratification. It’s subtle but it’s there.

According to Merriam Webster, compassion is defined as sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it .

See the difference? It puts the focus on others’ rather than forcing you to live inside your head.

For a very long time, anytime someone behaved in a manner that would annoy me, I used to become stiff and mentally rigid. I would pit them as a sparring rival and get into defense mode. I could feel my body’s reaction changing viscerally to people acting unwise.

“Why are they being so stupid or unwise?”

“Why can’t they behave perfectly?”

It used to always get me. It was sort of my trigger and cost me peace many times in the past.

Until recently. Until compassion came to my rescue.

I took up the challenge to find a solution to this constant trigger because I realized that there’s no way I am going to escape people getting in my way. I may have to become a monk in silent retreat in India and even then there could be someone bothering me. (a bird?)

When there’s two humans, there’s at least one problem between them. At some point.

Like many things in life, our mental reaction to events is plainly a long-standing habit. Some people are triggered by loud music, hence will lose their calm. Some people are triggered by foul smell and hence will lose their calm. Some people are disturbed by foul language, hence will lose their calm.

But here’s the thing. You can’t control the external triggers. You can’t control loud music, traffic, people acting unwisely, foul smells or even your partners behaviors on a given day. It is what it is.

People acting unwise is a cue that you can use to immediately generate compassion instead of comparison. It doesn’t matter “how wise you are in this situation than them”. It’s not about you. It’s about them and what they are doing and how it might hurt their own mental peace.

This practice is not without it’s hardship because it is literally impossible to get out of your own thinking when you are “triggered” but like all great habits, this one is worth cultivating in the long run.

What do you think? What are some techniques you use while navigating imperfect moments with other people?