My husband and I celebrate Saturday with Starbucks, but last week when he asked what I wanted, I nearly lost my mind. Instead of giving me a few seconds to think, he started running down a mental menu, “Do you want a caramel frappucino? A white chocolate mocha latte? A kiwi-dragonfruit refresher…” until I snapped. Usually, we are the most peaceful, loving couple you could hope to meet, so why was I reacting so disproportionately to an innocent question?
I soon realized the reason I responded so testily was because I had experienced a tough week in my tax season moonlighting gig. All week I had to simultaneously research and interpret finer points of tax law to answer one question, while the client on the horn continued rapid-firing interjections of, “Oh! I also wanted to ask you…”
I had to keep a smile on my face while repeatedly asking them to slow down and let me finish researching their original query when I wanted to scream, “Would you give me a bloomin’ moment to think, please?”
When I explained this to my sweetie, he immediately understood, but the episode got me thinking about all the little things that grate my nerves like so much taco cheese even when I’m not running on Muscle Milk and caffeine. Why couldn’t I just let that stuff go?
I did a bit of research during my quiet times on how to let go of minor things bothering me, and what I found about keeping my inner peace can help you do the same.
Here are three tips on how to let things that bother you go.
1. Ask Yourself: Will This Matter Tomorrow (or Next Week)?
Your daughter lets your muddy pooch inside right after you mopped the floor. Or maybe your hubby tosses his stinky socks on the floor instead of the hamper for the millionth time. Do you laugh it off, or do you lose it and say hurtful things?
Before handing someone you love or work with a heaping serving of your mind, step back and ask yourself if what’s perturbing you will even matter in the morning. Because here’s the thing: the floor will get clean again, and the socks will get washed, but the wounds you leave on another person’s psyche don’t scrub away with a Magic Eraser.
2. Forgive Yourself and Make Amends
Even the most mindful yogis occasionally do things they regret, and they dedicate their lives to cultivating inner peace. We all say or do the wrong thing at times, and the guilt we feel when we make those mistakes burden us like so much mental luggage.
When you do or say something hurtful, offer a sincere apology to help mend fences. Communicate honestly that you know you acted insensitively and want to make amends. Then, you can let the guilt go and move on with life.
Practice self-forgiveness, as well. No matter how badly a past mistake makes you feel, you don’t have a time machine. If you regularly ruminate on old events, stop and ask yourself what lesson you learned about how to behave going forward. When you start looking at mistakes as growth opportunities, not reasons to self-flagellate — you can finally bid guilt adieu.
3. Combat Negative Thoughts With Positive Ones
Negative thoughts have a way of spiraling into exasperation and even contempt toward ourselves or others. Something as simple as forgetting to put the toilet seat back down somehow morphs into, “You don’t care about me and my needs!” Resentment is like a slow-acting toxin — seemingly innocuous at first but eventually killing love.
Every time you feel yourself grumbling under your breath about how someone in your life never cares, behaves considerately or gives you enough respect, put yourself in check. Replace the negative thought with something positive your lover, child, boss or coworker brings to your life. Sure, maybe your significant other always forgets to rinse out the cat food tins — but they did take care of feeding the cats, didn’t they?
Everyone reacts better to praise than criticism, so why bring others down when you can lift them up? Focusing on all the things you love or admire about the people in your life will improve your relationships exponentially.
The Joy of Making Like Elsa and Letting Things Go
People have a habit of blowing life’s little annoyances way out of proportion, especially when things get stressful. But practicing love, respect, kindness and empathy will make for a far happier life journey than dwelling on the things that rub you the wrong way. You’ll relieve stress and become more receptive to all the beautiful things life has to offer when you focus on the good in everyone around you.
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