We all know this if we really think about it, but sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves…you can’t control anyone but yourself.
What other people do/say/think is out of your control.
So why do I let people bother me?
I know it’s not helpful or productive and wish I could let stuff roll off my back and not be bothered by what people say/do/think, but it’s hard.
As the comedian Sebastian Maniscalco – says, “I like to be bothered.”
Allowing myself to be bothered by what other people do forces me to take my eye off the ball.
It changes my concentration and energy.
I try to not be bothered. Really try.
The other day I was sitting in a Jason’s Deli for breakfast and, as you may know, Jason’s Deli’s main serving time is lunch. The place was hopping with dozens of workers in red shirts prepping catered lunches for delivery and prepping the salad bar, dining room, and sandwich station for customers.
I had my journal and some reading material to keep me busy. There was a hum to the place as everyone did what he or she was supposed to be doing, each to his or her own task.
Except one guy who sat across from me on the other side of the dining room. He wore a Jason’s Deli shirt, looked to be about 40 maybe, and sat sideways at a table by himself watching videos on his phone. Loudly.
As I mentioned, the place hummed in preparation for the lunch rush. Everyone had something to do. Except this guy.
I wondered what he was doing and why he was the only employee who didn’t seem to have anything to do. Was he not on the clock? Was he waiting for a ride? What? And why did he have to play his video at top volume? Headphones, dude!
I looked around for the manager, not so I could report the guy, but out of curiosity. Had he seen this guy sitting around doing nothing but watch videos while everyone else was busting his or her butt?
But if the manager had seen the guy, he clearly wasn’t as bothered as I was.
This video-watching-on-high-volume-without-headphones guy totally changed my vibe. He irritated the heck out of me.
But wait! That’s not what happened at all.
What really happened is… I let him get to me.
His actions were out of my control. Reporting him to a manager could have influenced the situation, but would that have been worth it to me?
The reality of the situation was:
- I don’t know why he was loafing around in the dining room.
- Yes, the video blaring on his phone was obnoxious, but big deal.
- He wasn’t hurting anyone. Just annoying the hell out of me.
- I could have wrangled my own thoughts better.
Controlling myself vs. controlling others.
I couldn’t control him. Not even my stink-eye glances got his attention. I let him get under my skin and throw me off balance.
And I didn’t even know the guy, although that doesn’t matter either.
It can be infuriating when someone you know and love behaves/thinks/says things you wish you could change.
But you can’t do that either.
Influence? Maybe. The best you can hope to do is influence that person.
I imagine I have a similar effect on people at times.
Life will be sweeter if I remember this
I can’t control people, what they do or what they say, I can’t control what happens, I can’t control the weather.
All I can hope to control is my reaction to those things. And I must do my best to react in a manner in line with who I am and who I strive to be every day, to be compassionate, loving, and patient.
So pretty much the opposite of how I reacted to that poor guy who apparently was losing his hearing and had to play his phone so loud they could hear it in the parking lot.
For more on this topic, read Be the gatekeeper of your joy