How to stop feeling frustrated with someone

My husband snores...not too much or too loud, however, it's just enough that it feels like he's grating at my dreams and sending electric shocks through my body (even while I'm wearing earplugs!). 

Of course, intellectually, I understand he can't help it. Nevertheless, when my sleep is disrupted by his snoring, boy do I get angry.

And then because I'm frustrated and feeling hopeless (OMG am I ever going to sleep well for the rest of my life?!) I get even more upset and more awake!  

Not fun. 

Now, before we get any further, is there a person in your life who frustrates you? Hold onto that thought and I'll finish my story.

Several weeks ago, we took a family trip skiing and I slept in the same room as both my husband and three-year-old daughter, Linor. Linor had a cold. So now she was snoring, too.  I noticed that I had a dramatically different response to my daughter snoring. I wasn't angry with her at all. What's that about?


Here's what I got for you. It's easy for me to appreciate the innocence of my child and forgive her...but my husband, an adult? That's different. Right?


It's almost common sense: A child is innocent and an adult should know better! (Even though in this case, I know, I know, he can't help it!).  But here's the deal. What would your experience with the people who trigger you feel like if you assumed their innocence? 

Sit with that. Bring up that image of the person who annoys you. Can you imagine them as a child who was pure and only wanted to love and please you?

Now, of course, I know it may seem completely impossible, especially with Bob, from accounting, who insulted you in front of everyone at the board meeting. Or with Mary who blatantly took credit for your work. Or with the waitress who messed up your order and didn't apologize. 

But is it really that different?

Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of Nonviolent Communication, says that there is no such thing as an insult, it's only a "tragically expressed need."

As we grow up, life happens. And we learn to believe things or to respond to circumstances through fear. 

"If I admit I'm wrong, I'll show weakness."
Tragically expresses the need to be strong. 

"If I speak up, I'll be punished."
Tragically expresses the need to be perceived as "good" and "likable." 

"If Amy tries that again, I'll show her!"
 > Tragically expresses the need to be safe.


Unfortunately, responding from fear or anger will only sabotage our chances of creating positive change. It doesn't mean that you're not allowed to feel negative emotions, it just means you better take a break until your heart feels calmer. By the way, this also doesn't mean that you should be a doormat and not hold folks responsible. It's just about how you do it. 

I can hear your skepticism, "That's nice, Stella. You're so positive. But if I'm pissed off, there's no way I'm going to see someone's "innocence"."

Yes, you can. And it's not that difficult. It's just not what you're used to doing. 

The first step is to be willing to think a new thought.  Even if 99.9% of you is convinced of one story, just by consciously reserving .01% of willingness to approach this with new eyes - you may notice a dramatically new reality unfold.

It sounds like this in your head:

1. Be willing to see it differently: "Okay, I'm super annoyed right now. But I'm willing to see this differently even if I just wish this person the absolute worst, I'm going to reserve one ounce of possibility to see this in a new light."

2.  Be willing to be curious: "AHHHH! That's the oddest thing that Mary just said. I wonder what that's really about?

3. Be willing to not judge: "All I can think right now is that Bob is a bully and has no appreciation for anyone's work. He's the worst leader I've worked with.  Okay, okay, let me take a breath and be willing to not judge."  

If you're waiting for the clouds to part and a hallelujah song to cue instantaneously, you may be disappointed. You have to be patient.  So step #4 is to pause. 

4. Just wait. 
Don't send an email. Don't text. Don't speak until you're calm and can communicate with empathy, kindness, or at least calmness. I can't guarantee how that willingness will transform your experience, but I know for certain it's only going to help.  Just notice what you notice.

The most important factor in communication when dealing with a confrontation is not your words, but your energy. It's HOW you're being. Your willingness to not lead from fear directly impacts the quality of your being.  No one can really hear you or see your innocence when you're angry and frustrated.  

I hope this helps. And if you need more, I'm here for you. See below for how to sign-up for a call with me.

I'm beaming you love and practicing this alongside with you. Now when I wake up from Ilya's snoring, I try to gently request that he turn to his side. Plus, I got better earplugs!

By the way, I've opened up seven new spots on my calendar for complimentary strategy sessions. This is for you if you need help resolving a work/career issue, want clarity on how you want to be, or if you'd like professional ears to hear your challenge.

Free. And first come first served. Sign up here. 

Best,
Stella


PS This message was approved by my husband :)