“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”
– Pema Chödrön
I work with someone who’s nearly impossible. Question after question after question with no effort towards retention. The quintessential recipe for frustration. But what is it that I am frustrated with? Is it my coworker? It can’t be, because some people think nothing of it. So, is it my desire for things to be a certain way? Or how about my need for uncomplicated communication? Or maybe I’m just tired. No matter the reason, all the arrows point back at me. The frustration I feel is simply my reaction to the situation. And below the reaction, is usually a deeper wish for well being. In this situation, I’ve found that my deeper wish is to end the confusion and bring understanding. It wasn’t until I saw this wish that I was able to let go of my negative reaction and realize that the reaction would not lead to well being.
The heart is like a door. As it opens, guests enter. As we let others in, they no longer scream from outside. We stop seeing them as a nuisance and we accept them as they are. Our preferences fade and we gain insight on the lessons that they offer. We begin to see and understand the bigger picture. They may frustrate us, but when we open our hearts we begin to see emotions that arise, the source of the emotions, and the deeper wish for well being.
When others drive you mad, ask yourself “what is arising here?”. You’ll recognize the emotions as they show up and if you sit with it long enough, you’ll start to identify the mental construct that is causing you to react in a certain way and what your deeper wishes may be. From there, decide if the reactions you are having are beneficial and ultimately if they lead you toward well being.
We may not be able to change others, but we can always look into the mirror and make little improvements on ourselves. Start by opening your heart, theres plenty of room for the world and the wisdom that it brings is profound.