This was first published on KSL.com
I often have problems with co-workers and am often bothered or angry with their behavior. They are inconsiderate and they never take responsibility for what they do wrong. I am thinking of looking for another job, but I am worried that before long the new co-workers would just bother me too. I’d like a job where I didn’t have to deal with people at all, but in my field that doesn’t exist. I realize the problem might be me and not them, but how do you really know? How can I feel less bothered with people?
First I want to commend you for being willing to look at the situation and see if you are the problem. That takes courage and the truth is we are always at least part of the problem. If you are often bothered with other people’s behavior or find yourself angry at people on a regular basis, one of two things is happening:
If you are willing to seek the truth and grow, there are some things you can do to check yourself and make sure you aren’t the problem, and make seeing your problem easier to understand.
Strengthen your self-esteem first
To ready yourself for this exercise first remind yourself that you have the exact same intrinsic value as every other human being on the planet, whether you are the problem or not. Life is a classroom and you are here to learn, but you cannot fail or be "not good enough." No matter where you are or what you are struggling with, you still have the same value as everyone else and you are right on track in your classroom journey (or you can believe this if you want to).
This means you are safe to look at your behavior objectively, see problems with it and make changes and there is nothing to fear. You are still OK and safe. Take a minute and tune into this belief.
Ask for honest feedback
You might want to ask some close friends or family members for some candid feedback about your behavior. You might have to reassure these people that you can handle the truth and want to learn. Tell them you really want to see where your perspective might not be accurate. You might also ask them what you could do to improve yourself and show up for other people better. If doing this scares you, work with a coach or counselor to build up your self-esteem first. A coach or counselor may also be a safe place to get some objective feedback. A third-party person can often tell you things a family member or friend would be too scared to say.
Don’t be offended by the feedback. Thank them for being willing to support your learning and take some time alone to step back and look at their perspective. There is a chance it isn’t accurate and they could be projecting their issues onto you. But if you will sit quietly with the information, your gut usually knows what you own and what you don’t.
Check for trust issues
Do you have a hard time believing others have your best interest in mind? Do you delegate or prefer to do things yourself so you know they are done right? Does having control make you feel safer? Do you subconsciously assume other people can’t be trusted? If you have a subconscious tendency to distrust, you may generally feel unsafe in the world. This makes you see everything and everyone as a threat. If you have had this programming your whole life, you may be more confrontational and easy to offend. The important part is that you become aware of this tendency, so you can catch it when it’s happening. Acknowledge that you might be seeing the situation through your "mistreatment lenses." Ask another person who doesn’t have this tendency how they view the situation and be willing to shift your story around the situation to one that is less offending.
Ask yourself these questions:
Don’t have any shame around this — show compassion to yourself and others.
Just own that you may need some work on your fear triggers or some additional healthy thinking skills you haven’t had the opportunity to learn. It’s time to find some professional help to change the underlying fears that drive bad behavior. You are not a bad person, though. You are just a scared, stressed, worried person who needs to learn another way to see and process what goes on around you.
You also need to work on having more compassion and being more tolerant of other people’s bad behavior. Every time you condemn or judge another person for bad behavior and get bothered or annoyed by them, you are subconsciously making a rule that says "there are faults which make some humans unworthy of love." Every time you do this, you are also accepting the same rule for yourself. You are confirming the belief that there are faults in you that could make you unworthy of love too. This will make you need to judge others more to feel better and a vicious cycle is created.
Work on changing this one thing. Be more compassionate and less judgmental of others. Allow them to be flawed and still be worthy of love. Be more patient, forgiving, and let a lot of annoying things go. You will not only get along better with others, but your own self-esteem will improve.
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.