When you feel annoyed or angry towards someone it is always a good idea to check what ‘filter’ you are looking at them/their actions/the event, through. For example – imagine someone close to you scratching your car by mistake. The event of scratching your car, if explained without emotion is:
Sandy reversed out of the driveway and as she turned into the road she scraped the side of Peter’s car. That is the bare event without emotion attached.
Now, consider the emotional thought filter you perceive that event through..there could be several. If you had a negative filter and had thoughts such as –
1) Sandy doesn’t care about my car. Sandy is selfish and only thinks about herself. Sandy is so careless. Sandy is not a good wife in general – now she does this!
Or a more positive filter:
2) I love Sandy. She made me a cup of tea before she left in the morning. Sandy and I are good together. Sandy misjudged her distance and scraped my car – it must’ve been a mistake.
Can you see that depending on which filter you were engaging with, your reaction would be entirely different? Filter one would cause anger and frustration. Filter two would result in a more positive and resolution focused response.
When we believe that someone cares about us and loves us and we feel like a team, we tend to interpret their behaviour more positively – even if their behaviour is negative. We fall back on the context that this person loves us and wouldn’t want to hurt us. When the goodwill in a relationship is eroding we tend to make assumptions and believe that our partner does not have our best interests in mind. This thought process leads to more negativity being injected into the relationship.
So you can see how important it is to monitor your mindset. When you believe that others aren’t out to get you and that the world isn’t full of bad people, you ten to relax and let others in a bit more. When we believe the world is bad and people are evil, we will be on guard, be offish with others who will then interpret your behaviour as negative and stay away from you – thereby reinforcing your views that people aren’t nice. See how it works?
Next time you find yourself getting angry, try to catch the thoughts that preceded the emotion. What story are you telling yourself? Does it serve you? Does it make you happy? Most probably not.
Give people the benefit of the doubt. Of course if a pattern of repeat behaviour develops then you will need to communicate and re-assess things. We all make assumptions about others but we tend to overdo it when we have a negative filter as well. The other person is damned before they have even begun.