“I fought with someone in the morning. As a result, ‘I am upset’. And hence, I am having a bad day!” Sounds somewhat familiar? We all go through moments or days like this. Don’t we? What if you figure out a way where you can have a good day despite a bad interaction? Read on…
When we have a bad interaction with someone, we carry over that effect to the next interaction. The common point between the new interaction and the previous one is – only YOU. Nothing else. Incidents are different. People are different. You are common. Instead of letting one transaction spill over and influence the other, how about you close the lid on the previous transaction before you move to the next one? We can call it a “break-state”- where you break away from the previous one and move to the next one with no baggage or hangover. Sounds good?
The next question – how to do that?
Imagine you have two buckets. One has dirty water. One has clean water. You will be most likely careful with the clean bucket since you don’t want dirty water to get into that. The dirty one, you don’t mind whether clean water or dirty water gets in there because it is anyways dirty. Whatever goes it will only get dirty.
Likewise in your brain, let’s say you have different compartments. One interaction did not go well. Shut the lid of that compartment before you go to the next one. Remind yourself that this transaction is complete and the next one is a clean bucket. You don’t want dirty water in a clean one. So, focus on the clean bucket. The more you focus on the cleanness of the bucket, the more you’ll be aware of what you are doing and the less will you let the dirty water get in there. The more you focus on how distinct this new transaction is from the old one, the less you’ll let the old one affect this.
Secondly, also tell yourself that this new, clean transaction is going to affect all other transactions for not just you, but the other person as well. This clean bucket is supplying water to an entire town thereof. So, if you dirty this water, the dirty water going to be supplied to an entire town. You definitely don’t want that to happen. So, you’ll operate with more awareness keeping in mind the higher purpose.
A simple example: let’s say I fought with someone and came home to my 3-year-old. My 3-year-old has been waiting to see me for the whole day. As soon as she sees me, she wants me to play with her and entertain her. Now if she doesn’t listen to me on something, I have a choice to let dirty water affect me and spoil this transaction with a little one. Or, I can choose to remind myself that she has been waiting with so much eagerness and love. Anything that I do with her now is going to shape her belief about herself and the world. So, I will operate with love and kindness because I know the dirty water can contaminate not just my relation with her but her entire life. She may learn that it’s appropriate to misbehave or lose our cool with people. She might learn aggression from me.
Likewise, when we come back home bringing dirty water and contaminating our interactions at home – somewhere we expect our parents or partners to understand how contaminated we are and separate or filter the water for themselves and us too. But they can’t do that. Because they weren’t prepared for it, weren’t expecting it. Dirty water is best controlled at the source. If you stop dirty water from flowing into clean spaces, you’ll avoid contaminating the clean spaces and not have the necessity to clean it up later. The one who’ll benefit the most will be you because you are preventing your life from coming under a flood.
When we face one problem, if we start looking at our entire life itself as a problem – then we are contaminating our lens. Isolate problems and see them for what they are. Isolate problematic interactions and see them for what they are. Avoid mixing things up and contaminating your entire life when the contamination could be prevented to just that one person or one incident. It doesn’t take a saint or a monstrous effort to do that. It just takes a slight awareness to start every interaction fresh and close containers tightly so bad water doesn’t spread. For the next 30 minutes, operate with awareness for every fresh interaction and see the difference it makes. Once you instruct your mind, your mind will keep alerting you. Trust and try.