It’s Not Me…It’s You!
We have no control what they say to us, or what they think of us.
What we do have complete control of, is how we think, how we respond, or if in fact, we’re required to respond at all.
Annoying as this sounds, if you’re reacting badly to other persons words, behaviours or actions, whether or not they are intentionally directed towards you, it’s ultimately a reflection on you…not them.
There’s a couple of things to unpack here.
1. We can all be guilty of simply ‘perceiving’ that someone is being rude or impolite. We have all mis-read a situation, an action, a look or a comment, and yet we allow our ego to interpret it, and take charge of our response.
2. If someone ‘is’ being rude to you, then it’s either reflection on their current state of mind, or simply a mistake…you know, like the ones we all do. Again, as much as you may like to, you have no control over their state of mind, so resist allowing their mood, their current life situation or an innocent mistake to bankrupt your mental wellbeing. This could be in fact the perfect opportunity to respond with compassion, either verbally or in thought, as this will annihilate the toxic mood escalating and put your ego in it’s place. If you can muster the opportunity to offer compassion or kindness, the next hurdle is to resist that smug grin on your face, bragging to others, or quietly gloating about how nice n kind you were to someone.
The thing to remember here is that compassion is (more) for your benefit, your wellbeing just as much as it is for the other person.
I think it’s fair to say that we could all agree that we are our own harshest critic, that it’s our own lifestyle habits and associated environmental stresses, combined with our ego and internal dialogue that is the cause of the majority of our frustrations, annoyances and our less-than-favourable response-behaviours.
Then, does it make sense that if we understood why we get annoyed and frustrated, that this could potentially lead to some pretty significant kick-arse self-awareness-shit??
Derr…of course it’s easier…
This ‘sacrifice’ comes in the form of spending my weekends doing hospitality work, something that I both enjoy, and can safely and proudly say that I’m pretty good at…unlike say something that I’m not particularly proficient at… like fixing stuff, maintenance…I am totally “un-blokey” in the field of handymanship…not that being ‘handy’ is a particular male attribute…I’m digging myself into a hole here…someone hand me a shovel…oh, that’s what a shovel looks like?
One of the reasons, particularly pertinent in this time of my life, that I cherish the opportunity to do hospitality (apart from working with a bunch of awesome young adults) is because it offers me fertile soil to practice, to deliberately & mindfully practice all the skill-sets that I’m wanting to improve within myself. All this wonderful philosophy and psychology I’ve been consuming over the past 3-5 years needs a forum, needs a stadium, a training ground, a coliseum if you like that will manifest opportunities to alert myself to observe (and test-drive what I’m learning) both with what is going through my head, and, what I am saying to myself.
‘The philosopher’s lecture room is a hospital:
You ought not to walk out of it in a state of pleasure, but in pain.
For you are not in good condition when you arrive”.
Hospitality is my lecture hall, my “hospital”.
Working is such an environment, especially front-line hospitality, in busy venue, executed to the best of your ability, with a cheerfully unflappable manner, is quite simply, fucking hard work.
A 8-9 hour non-stop shift, interacting with 200-400 individuals, all with specific tastes, budgets and expectations, all with their own moods, hangups, tolerances (both dietary and socially), differing age groups etc is trés challenging. It demands a degree of physical fitness (walking fast pace for 15-20km per shift), mental acuity, zen-like-patience and a black-belt in emotional intelligence…these are (the) desire-able job prerequisites…the reality though is these skill sets are really only somewhat honed and mastered after being ‘smashed around’ in the customer coal-face for “some” years.
It’s also a chaotic-masterclass in managing temperaments, juggling individual expectations and wants, using the right pronouns, interpreting both body and tongue language, constantly resisting not being offended/or telling someone to fuck off (some customers, especially when alcohol is flowing, have no filter, and exposure to inappropriate or disparaging comments is rife), moving as fast as you can without looking or sounding rushed; plus, between customer, your team mates, management and the kitchen brigade, being skilfully delicate at adjudicating, delegating, negotiating all the individual specific customer requests…stuff like customers demanding menu-changes that you know will cause a kitchen shit-storm…Do I oblige the customer, or pre-empt the (understandably) cyclonic kitchen conditions and kindly inform the customer that removing the egg-yokes from their fried eggs is not going to happen (true story).
Like I said it’s a terrifically-demanding job, especially when it’s done well, when you want to do it well...and it is exactly these reasons why it offers me the perfect opportunity to run around at flat-out speed, whilst I not only practice honing my own desired skill-sets, but also deliver some rapid-fire ‘awesome Dad jokes’ (is that an oxymoron?) Like the one last weekend when a customer said they had been busy all morning shopping for couches and I said “sofa so good?”...absolute gold…absolutely no one laughed, except me #bestdadjokeeverwhennoeonelaughs
In such a volatile, high-pressure environment, the fallible humans we are, we can tend to favour reacting in a negative manner when we’re stressed, conflicted, or under the proverbial pump, when we perceive that someone is treating us badly, when there’s disagreement, when someone is complaining…or those wanting to “upset” the norm, ‘our’ homeostasis, by requesting change…this is hospitality in a nutshell…this is life in a nutshell!
And that is why hospitality (or your life, or your job, your family) is a fascinating environment to work in, to conscious study and challenge yourself and how you’re responding…it’s, if you want it to be, a self-awareness workshop on steroids.
For me, it’s where I get tested, it’s where I repeatedly fail…EVERY.BLOODY.DAY…. but each day I fail, I fail little better, I learn a little more about myself, and the more I learn, the more I self-audit and observe my thoughts. By doing this I am able to garner and propagate more self control, to create more space between “the stimuli” and “my reaction”…the greater that space between the two, the more calm is created.
The name “Stoicism” derives from the Stoa Poikile (Ancient Greek) or “painted porch”, a colonnade, a busy open market area, where Zeno,
the grandude of Stoicism kicked-off his philosophical discussions with his followers.
This particular ‘self-auditing’ approach was inspired some years back by my old mate Jordan Peterson when I watched a number of his Psychology class presentations at Toronto University, where he states that we need to be mindful, observant, and stop saying and doing things that make us weak.
This lead me to feverishly research, read, think, write and meditate more to find out why I think and say, what I think and say…and over a period of time, what I found is that I am becoming more and more conscious (aware) of the crap that is not only going through my head, but what is also actually coming out my mouth.
I realised, quite to my astonishment that two extraordinary things were / are happening…a lot…like, most of the time.
Firstly, my psyche kinda split…not in a fucked up, bunny boiling, shower-stabbing-scene, American psycho kind a way, but in a way where I started to obtain the capacity to observe what I was saying. Not only that, but once what i said was out in the real world, my (totes-normal) split-psyche-self would say something along the lines of “that could of been said better”, or “was that necessary?” or “you don’t actually think that”.
This internal narrative wasn’t/isn’t combative or argumentative, it was me observing myself.
Secondly, what I soon realised was a) most of what I am saying was mostly meaningless and, b) what I was saying wasn’t my truth.
This led me to the alarming realisation that the majority of what was going through my head and out my mouth wasn’t actually me…then who’s thinking what I’m saying? (cue Twilight Zone theme tune)…and..what impact was/is this having on my internal narrative, my actions & reactions (my behaviours, habits, compulsions etc) …surely if can’t be productive?
I don’t f****** know…not yet anyways, hence this journey.
But having said that, I reckon there are some juvenile mental-behaviours, to be clear….my own juvenile mental-behaviours, that I believe may have certainly contributed to this combative/corrosive-narrative being uploaded, and installed into my virus-riddled main-frame of a brain…and thus, possibly responsible for the on-cue bullshit, subconscious verbatim that seems to effortlessly flow from my gob….that sentence is a perfect example.
Don’t Allow Your Victim-Mentality To Bully You
This is one rampant mofo-of-a-cognitive-functioning that if not ‘reeled in’, will, I believe, be the cause of most of our f/u internal dialogue…and I for one, spend plenty of time of observing it and lassoing it back into control.
How good are we at making a perceived judgement/assessment about something, then creating this typhoon-like unreal story-book narrative about it, that only further descends our reactions and emotions to darker darker voids of our heads, and our actions, and our words…and probably stimulates our self-sabotaging/ compulsive behaviours?
All conflated from something that doesn’t exist.
Like Socrates, Buddha and a host of other big-brain heavyweights conclude “what we think, we become”.
This is something I have been ‘working on’ for some time now, and though it still happens everyday, I’m getting much better at identifying and observing when those thoughts ‘begin’ to arise, and then duly nipping them in the bud…I often catch myself saying, often out loud, ‘shut the fuck up Luke, you’ve got better things to think about.’…probably explains why there’s guys with white coats outside my front door.
It’s remarkable what we’re capable of doing to ourselves when we allow ourselves to subconsciously victimise and bully ourselves – and we can tend to do it all the time.
It’s alarming to think how detrimental our subconscious thoughts can be on our real-world-selves.
Simply being aware of your actions so that you’re not subconsciously doing stuff that is a segue to bully yourself. I believe, we need to be extremely mindful, observe and audit our daily behaviours that create misery, despondency and fragility within ourselves…and us humans have a innate black-belt ability to do things that just aren’t good for us.
Simple examples could be:
Eating like a jack-ass and then punishing yourself in the gym, or visa-versa
Drinking booze consistently and then getting upset, start the blame-game, manifest anger or depressive thinking because you’re unmotivated, fat and uninspired to pursue want you really want to do.
Watching Netflix on your laptop in bed till the early hours of the morning, then punishing yourself through the lazy choices you make the next day because your exhausted.
Our self-rewarding – remember, you’ve set this up yourself and you’ll use this liberally, especially when things are stressful, when things are going well, when it’s sunny, when its cold n wet, when its a birthday, funeral, wedding, after a long day at work, or when the kids have gone to bed…are you rewarding yourself in the short-term, but in the long-term bullying yourself?
Or…and he’s the wrap-up…
Allowing your life, your ‘lecture-hall’, what you experience everyday to negate your ability to control your thoughts and actions. If you’re responding to the challenges of your environment, that you have chosen, and it’s making you construct an internal narrative that supports crappy, self-sabotaging unhealthy life choices, then in my book, your choices will end up bullying you – by the weak things you say to yourself, and the weak things you say to those around you – all of which will then have a detrimental effect on what you decide to shove and pour down your throat, and your attempts, approach and motivations to managing your physical and mental health-wealth.
All the things that are good for you, that inspire you, that supports you will become de-prioritised, and all start to fall by the wayside
We Want To Improve, Learn & Grow As We Age…Don’t We?
I bloody do…
This may come off sounding a little weird, nothing new right!, but the exact reason why I live the lifestyle i do, is so that I am better enabled to actively ‘self-audit’ my own thought processes and behaviours…to hack away at the unessential, and hone my time and focus.
This process, like every process such as getting fitter, stronger, improving your golf swing and your own self-awareness requires clarity, sobriety and discipline…without it, we’ll never possess the foundation to manifest motivated deliberate practice to achieve what we want.
Want to create and bespoke your own life-epiphanies?
I reckon epiphanies take place when we’re personally-aligned in the best possible way – via our physical and mental health, this I believe is our segue (that word again) for not only manufacturing the required & practical, realistic grit and resilience to march forth, but to also create the space and time to see what the world around you has on on offer.
If we’re constantly clouded with not only poor life-choices, but unable to face the daily tasks at hand and partition what is important and what is not, then we will find it challenging to curb the (subconscious) thoughts and behaviours that keep us distracted, unhealthy, tired & grumpy.
It’s only when that space has been created between stimuli and response, where calm, breath and conscious thought can manifest, will we have an opportunity to see not only what is really important to us, but also, and maybe more importantly, an ability to observe and disregard everything that is not important.