Have you ever watched Curb Your Enthusiasm? It’s not for everyone. Most people who do watch it will say that it is hilarious but also very painful to watch, as Larry David says and does all the things you’d like to say and do but never would. He is the king of calling people out on their behavior.
I had a very similar experience the other day at Vert — my favorite lunch spot in Denver (if you live in D-town, best lunch ever — hands down). I’m sitting quietly eating my salad when 2 men at another table begin a SKYPE conference. And it’s the same as the above video — very loud and obtrusive. There’s no way you can’t not listen. What has happened to people?
I used to take things personally like this and other things like: people constantly texting even when you are at dinner, or taking calls in front of other people, not letting your car merge in a traffic situation. Or how about you are at a party and someone that you have met a thousand times, pretends to not know you. What is that about? Well, I’ll tell you, it’s not about you at all.
Check out Don Miguel Ruiz’ book The Four Agreements — in it, one of his agreements is to not take things personally (pretty hard to do when you are totally stressed out in traffic — but possible). Behaviors like I described and many many more are not about you — it’s about that person. Now, this works when you are at the party — because you can think to yourself “this isn’t about me — this person is obviously insecure, or uncomfortable in party situations, has terrible manners, completely oblivious, passive aggressive, stupid”. Whatever it is, it’s not about you really.
Funny thing is, if you take someone else’s behavior personally — then suddenly it does become about you and the way you feel about yourself. If someone is rude to you, or ignores you and you think “why is she ignoring me? Is it because I don’t matter? Because I’m not cool enough?” Well now, suddenly you’ve allowed this person to “poison your mind” and now you think you suck when you really don’t.
I’m still working on this one as every once in a while, I do let the poison in and then I end up feeling bad about myself. It’s a work in progress. I figure that I’ll finally get it right when I’m about 80.
And, for the rude people in traffic and at restaurants . . . we know it’s not directed at us, but it feels personal because they have no regard for anyone else. Definitely not about us. So, it’s in these situations that I feel I must interject my opinion and let them know just how wrong they are. And, suddenly, it became about me. But, I don’t care because at least now they know how utterly rude and annoying they are. In traffic, this is where you give them the finger.
In the end though, when I do confront the rude person, my heart starts racing and I can’t breath and I get completely stressed over something that wasn’t about me. So, I’ve been trying to walk away and just know that I can’t school the world on their bad behavior. It’s much easier to just blog about it.