The haters gonna hate, the fakers gonna fake...how to shake it off:

Life's a funny old thing isn't it? One moment everything is swimming along nicely and then, out of the blue, comes some sort of challenge that knocks things a bit off balance and swallows up your time and energy.

Take last week for instance when someone decided to abandon their car in the office car park (minus a wheel for some reason!). What a faff about that became for everyone involved here, trying to resolve it and make alternative arrangements for parking. But hey, what are you going to do, shout at the car to move? Get stressed out and angry about it? The car would still be there however much negative emotion and wasted thinking anyone would care to do (it's no longer there by the way!).

And then only this week, my wife received an aggressive phone call from another parent accusing one of the girls of being responsible for all sorts of stuff involving her son. Rather than seeking to establish fact and understand the situation it seems this parent decided to launch into what later transpired to be a free-flowing emotional torrent of exaggerations, distortions and plain falsehoods. And I get it, because I think most of us want to think that our kids are well behaved saints when at school and that they could never say a mean word or carry out a mean act. I mean, not one's own children! No way! 

Yet if the most considerate person in the world can sometimes be a bit inconsiderate, and the nicest person in the world can sometimes be a bit mean, and the most intelligent person can sometimes do something a bit silly, then I think we have to recognise that all of us, adults and kids included, can occasionally slip below the bar that we hold ourselves to.

And of course what we have here is a typical example of emotional thinking swamping any logical thought. On hearing some information from her child, the person treats it as some form or insult or attack and then goes on the offensive. Rather than engage logical thinking and fact and seeking to understand the truth, her emotional brain launched into attack, attack, attack! And in such situations, shades of grey evaporate and everything is black or white, right or wrong (and things quickly get distorted, exaggerated and fabricated to support the 'argument'). Rather than seeking understanding, we see behaviours like exclusion (or in the modern context, 'unfriending' on Facebook) and quickly seeking the support of others to the distorted interpretation of events).

But of course as we all know, we have no control over what other people say and do. Whether or not we perceive they are being rude, insulting or plain deceitful, we have no control over any of it. We could argue back until we are blue in the face but that will likely just lead us to experience frustration, annoyance and stress and no amount of facts and logic will overcome their emotional thinking.

However, just because we do not have control over what another may say or do, does not mean we cannot do anything or that we have no control whatsoever. Because we do have control over how we respond to what they say and the actions we take with regard to it.

As the Stoic philosopher Epictetus put it, “The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control."

When we can focus on that which is within our control, then there are things we can do to constructively manage our perceptions, opinions and emotions. Doing so is likely to lead to less anxiety, worry and stress and more calmness and inner tranquillity. 

If you are pained by any external thing it is not this thing that disturbs you but your own judgment about it

As Marcus Aurelius wrote, "If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgment about it. And it is in your power to wipe out this judgment now." And back to Epictetus now, "It is not he who reviles or strikes you who insults you, but your opinion that these things are insulting." Wise words indeed!

The more we can stay calm and engage logical thinking when confronted with a situation, the more in control we are over our own judgements, and the more we recognise that we have this control, the less stress and annoyance we will experience over what we may have otherwise considered personal insults, affronts or attacks that would anger or upset us.

Thankfully by staying calm and seeking the facts from the school, it became clear that this was a case of emotional exaggeration and distortion. What was being slung around was a long way removed from anything that might have occurred. Which you would think would be an end of it yet some people simply can't let go.

Which reminded me of something Irvine writes in his book, 'A Guide To The Good Life', "When we consider the sources of insults, says Seneca, we will often find that those who insult us can best be described as overgrown children. In the same way that a mother would be foolish to let the "insults" of her toddler upset her, we would be foolish to let the insults of these childish adults upset us."

Or as Taylor Swift put it in her song, "the players gonna play, play, play, play, play, and the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate...and the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake..." and the more we learn to 'shake it off', the more we can take control over our perceptions and responses in a way that will mean more clear thinking, calmness and tranquillity.

To your success,

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

https://www.danreganhypnotherapy.co.uk/