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8 Reasons We Don’t Need To Get Angry With Rude People, But To Empathize With Them

8 Reasons We Don’t Need To Get Angry With Rude People, But To Empathize With Them

I was sitting on my veranda, drinking tea with a friend and enjoying the beautiful ocean breeze. And that’s when I heard someone shouting my name from the street. It was a neighbor, who we’ll call Jim, and he was upset. Very upset. “Who do you think you are?”, he screamed as he walked up my driveway. There had clearly been some sort of misunderstanding but Jim was so angry that he just kept shouting, without giving me the chance to clear things up.

My mind wanted to react and I felt a thought form: “What an a**hole!” But I resisted the temptation and instead, took a deep breath and remained fully present in that moment. I completely stopped listening to the words coming out of his mouth. I realized it wasn’t about me. This man was drowning in anger, resentment, pain, sorrow. I could feel it all as I tuned-in to his energy.

I then took a deep, conscious breath. As I inhaled, I visualized myself breathing in his anger. And on the exhale, I gave him love and compassion. And I followed up with these words: “I’m very sorry Jim if I offended you. It was not my intention.” Immediately, his energy changed. It was as if I had just burst the bubble of resentment he lived in. He was speechless. And right away I could sense that this man had never been shown kindness or compassion before. He didn’t even know what to do with the energy of love I sent his way.

He just stopped shouting, got into his truck, and drove off. Just like that. The next day, I was running in the mountains with my dogs, when I spotted Jim’s truck driving toward me in the distance. “Oh God, not again!” Just as I was hoping that Jim would drive right by and ignore me, he slowed down and came to a complete stop. He rolled down his window and looked at me. “Good morning Christina.” His eyes were filled with tears and I could sense this man was trying to apologize. He just didn’t know how.

He had never apologized to anyone before. So I helped him out. I reached through the window and put my hand on his heart. “It’s ok Jim. Everything is ok.” He smiled and I could feel a huge load lifted from him. And just like the day before, he drove off without saying another word. For days after that encounter, I thought deeply about what it all meant. It was without doubt, one the of the most impactful moments in my life. And I use this episode frequently, when teaching about the transformational power of love and compassion.

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My neighbor Jim showed me why we don’t need to get angry at rude people. And I’ve listed them below– along with specific ways in which we can better respond to a rude person, when we encounter them.

1. They are in pain.

I noticed this very quickly with Jim. His anger wasn’t really toward me, it was a more general resentment toward life. I knew a little bit about his situation to understand what may be causing this resentment. But even if you don’t know the rude person, you can safely assume they are living in pain. Why? Because whatever someone throws out in the world is always a reflection of what they feel inside. I felt compassion for Jim because I acknowledged how crappy it must be to live with such high levels of anger on a daily basis. And I consciously chose not to add to that anger by reacting in like fashion.

Tip 1: Take a deep breath and repeat this mental statement, or mantra: “I acknowledge and feel your pain.”

2. They may be simply passing on what they receive from others.

We communicate energetically with each other all the time. And we’ve all experienced this. Why do you feel great when you are in the presence of a happy person? And why do you feel drained when you go out to coffee with a Debbie Downer? It’s because we all absorb and share energy back and forth. Perhaps Jim had just had an argument with someone else and was just passing on that energy to me. Who knows.

What’s important to realize here is that we always have a choice on whether we want to perpetuate an energetic cycle of anger or love. We’re not robots and we can absolutely break the cycle of anger if we want to. With one breath, I was able to completely deflate Jim’s anger. And we all have that power.

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Tip 2: Inhale and visualize yourself breaking the energetic cycle of anger or resentment. Visualize yourself inhaling the negative emotion and then exhale love toward the person.

3. They unconsciously feel they deserve to live like this.

Life is made up of choices – both conscious and unconscious. And for so many of us, our lives are spent operating on auto-pilot. Perhaps we were mistreated as children. Or maybe there’s just an underlying sense of unworthiness. Whatever the reason, rude people tend to behave in the same way they unconsciously believe they deserve to be treated.

Tip 3: The best medicine for unconsciousness is awareness. In other words, become intensely present and send the energy of compassion toward the rude person. Follow up with this mental mantra: “You deserve kindness and compassion.”

4. They are reacting from the ego, not responding from the heart.

There’s a difference between living life from the heart versus the ego or mind. The ego is a reactive mechanism, sort of like a guard dog. Its job is to attack first … ask questions later. The heart operates in a completely different way. The heart is the seat of love and compassion. It has a broader perspective on things. It doesn’t react to life, it responds to it. A rude person is simply operating from a strong and reactive ego. But underneath that ego is the consciousness of love, which is really what we are all made of.

Tip 4: Actively acknowledge that you are choosing to respond with your heart, not react with your mind. You can do this by repeating the mental mantra: “I am present and listening with my heart.”

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5. They can change in an instant.

That is exactly what happened to Jim. One day he’s screaming and angry at me, the next he’s at peace and has tears in his eyes. This is the power of unconditional love. It’s transformative. So never assume a rude person will be like that forever. We all have the capacity to change. Try to always look upon another person with hope. New beginnings can be just one moment away. Or one day away, as was the case with my neighbor.

Tip 5: Repeat this mantra: “We all have the capacity to change.”

6. They are unconsciously asking for compassion and kindness.

Underneath the thick armor of ego lies a tender heart. Sometimes, it’s hard for us to see the heart, the consciousness within, because the ego is covering it up. That was certainly the case with Jim. With every nasty word he was screaming at me, I felt my own ego wanting to get sucked into the drama. But we can train ourselves to be what I call “Soul Seekers”. A Soul Seeker is someone who can see past the ego. They have X-Ray vision that can spot pure consciousness in another person, even if that consciousness is cloaked over with anger and resentment.

Tip 6: Repeat this mantra: “I am a Soul Seeker and I see the beauty in your heart.”

7. They may be showing you something about yourself.

Life is constantly mirroring things back to us. It’s also constantly testing our level of awareness. Whenever we find ourselves in a loving, peaceful situation, we can safely assume that love and peace exist within. But the opposite is also true: if we find ourselves in an angry situation, we can assume anger exists in us on some level. This became clear to me a few days after my encounter with Jim. I was meditating and I noticed some anger surface, when I rehashed the whole episode in my mind.

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Tip 7: Sit in silence and alone for a few minutes and close your eyes. Use the power of your awareness and scan your body for any points of tightness. Anger frequently gets stuck in our muscles. You can follow up with this mental question: “What am I angry about?”

8. They are your greatest teachers.

Oftentimes, personal growth and evolution of consciousness comes when we encounter painful situations in our lives. People who upset or hurt us are often the ones who teach us the most about life. They challenge us to see our own inner darkness and force us to choose how we want to live life. Do we want to live from the prism of ego and be reactive? Or do we want to live from the prism of the heart and be responsive?

Tip 8: If you find yourself confronted by a rude person, take a deep breath and repeat this mantra: “What are you here to teach me?”

In the end, I am so very thankful to my neighbor Jim for teaching me so many lessons on that day. From him, I learned the power of unconditional love. And everyday I choose to pass that on to others.

Be brave. Choose love. Even when anger seems easier.

Featured photo credit: The Way of the Exploding Fist via flic.kr

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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