You Upset Yourself

You Upset Yourself

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

On one level, it is true that someone may greatly upset you by his or her crabby behavior, but on another level, the truth is that the only person who can upset you is you.

We disturb ourselves by our views, beliefs, feelings, thoughts and actions regarding the things that happen to us. Greek philosopher Epictetus made a similar observation when he said, "We are not hurt by the events that happen to us, but, by how we view them."

Say, for example, you point out a flaw that you see in your best friend. Your intention to help your best friend is totally sincere. You do this because you love your best friend and don't want to see him or her getting hurt. But, your best friend gets offended and views your "help" as simply an unfriendly act. Your best friend sees you as being overcritical and intolerant, and stops talking with you.

Your best friend had a choice to act in a totally different manner. He or she could view it as an act that only a friend could do for another, thank you and ask for more information. However, your best friend's choice to act otherwise was based on certain feelings, beliefs, and assumptions about friends.

To continue with the example, let's imagine what you do. Say, you were taken totally by surprise by your best friend's reaction and felt deeply hurt and saddened. Why? Here are some of the possible reasons "why":
1. You believe that your closest friends should have absolute trust in you and always understand where you are coming from.
2. You assume that people should be objective and able to face the truth about their own selves.
3. You view the setback in friendship as an irreparable damage. The way your best friend acted, you feel you can never be that close again.
4. You think that you can never have a close friend. Even if you did, you fear that you can never be honest and candid with them.

The moral of this example is that both parties had a choice to act differently. The way they chose to act was determined by such subjective factors as the perceptions, thoughts, assumptions, feelings and beliefs. From now onwards, we will refer to these subjective factors as the "mind stuff."

It is best to question and dispute the mind stuff whenever it causes a problem. How can you tell when the mind stuff is causing problems for you? It's simple. Every time you have a strong negative emotional reaction to anything.

These two things can prevent you from experiencing strong negative emotional reactions:

1) Acceptance of self. 2) Acceptance of others. Easier said than done, huh! You can spend the rest of your life working on these two things and still not reach total and unconditional acceptance of self and others.

Be sure to know that the more progress you make on these two fronts, the more control you will feel over your emotional reactions. In the past, if it took you a day to get over the negative emotional reaction, it might take just a few hours or even minutes to do the same.

One of the most influential psychologist our times, Albert Ellis, in his latest book, Feeling Better, Getting Better and Staying Better, (Impact Publishers) recommends that we practice unconditional self-acceptance and unconditional other acceptance. One might say, "Yes, but these are lofty ideals. Not practical."

In my opinion, unconditional acceptance is more attainable than is the unconditional love. However, unconditional acceptance of self and others should be treated as life goals. So, we continuously work towards realizing them and reap the rewards for the rest of our lives.

Some fear that if they accept themselves as they are, they would stop growing. Remember the saying, "If you are raw, you keep growing. When you are ripe, you start rotting." Perhaps, a modified saying would allay these fears, "As long as you think you are raw, you keep growing. The moment you feel you're ripe, you start rotting." Self-acceptance doesn't have to be self-complacency.

Likewise, some fear that if they accept others as they are, they may walk all over them. Not so. Accepting others as they are actually helps you to work with them with greater patience and understanding.

Find a passion for something and a mission for life. Those who have a passion and a mission, tend to get less upset by events around them. They don't have the time or the energy to spend on anything else other than working on their passion and fulfilling their mission.

E-mail a link to this article to a friend. 

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 2001, Mind Publications 


Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor