It can take us to the point of total distraction when we focus everything on trying to change another person or their reactions. But big shifts can happen when we reclaim our energy and focus to begin finding new options for we ourselves to start trying new behaviors and reactions. It can be as simple as choosing to not react at all when another tries to provoke you in ways they’ve always provoked you. When something comes up that you’d normally react to, stop. Notice what happens in your body and breathing. Try taking a pause and a breath. Consider in that space: what other options do I have here? Silence? Walk away? Lean in?
I’ll give you a real world example. There is a woman we’d run into now and again whose demeanor was very aggressive. This person often grumbled under her breath at people. I’d seen her yell at children in the playground for climbing trees because she felt they were hurting the trees. Most people tried to argue with her. Some just walked away. Some became very frightened, grabbed their children and got away as soon as possible. For my part, I often got very angry, my blood pressure would rise, and I’d end up throwing angry looks at her which only fueled what she’d already started.
So one day, I decided I had an option. I could simply breathe. Let her flame out, not reacting, not fueling, nor trying to quell. Just breathe. And then in my morning meditations, I began to purposely conjure this person’s face and send loving kindness her way. I would often do it until I could see her face shift into a smile — something I’d never seen in real life.
Now I can’t say what happened. I don’t know why it happened. But the very next time I saw this person, guess what happened? She smiled at me?!? And breezed on by with no fuel, no fire, no grumble. Who knows if that reaction will be something I always get from now on, but one thing is certain, my reaction will continue to be breathing while sending loving kindness. Why? Because I know now — I saw it with my own two eyes — she has a beautiful smile in her! Plus, my blood pressure doesn’t go up when I just breathe. 🙂