Before we get into Maxie’s tips… I have to share that this really resonated with me. One thing I always remind myself whenever a friend is not happy with me or I’m not happy with them (whatever the reason), is that I am upset because I care. If I didn’t care about that particular friendship I wouldn’t be nearly as upset and that kind of puts everything I need into perspective.
3 Things to Remember When You’re Upset with Someone
Guest post by Maxie McCoy
Friends, family, colleagues and partners can bring great joy to our life. They make our experiences brighter. They share in our troubles. They make us laugh. And they remind us that life really is about the amount of love you can experience amongst the humans you care about most.
And on the flip side to all that relational joy, is the reality that our relationships can also cause us a lot of pain and turmoil. Some of it is because of them and their stuff. Some of it is because of us and our stuff. In relationships of any kind, our people act like mirrors: they reflect back the work we need to do on ourselves or the work that we’ve already done.
When we have communication breakdowns, and disagreements, and unmet expectations (i.e. all the things that happen in any relationship of any type) it’s natural to feel disappointed, upset, and bothered. That’s the thing about the people we care about, we also care just as much when things aren’t going well.
If you find yourself a little bit bothered, or even totally upset with someone, here’s a few reminders so you don’t add gasoline to the fire, and rather can find resolve quickly.
First, assume goodwill. This is so much easier said than done but it’s really important. The reality is, if someone did something to upset you, most likely they weren’t doing it with that intent. And we have to remember that. Sure, it might have been selfish, unthoughtful, weird or rude, but it’s unlikely that was their goal. Assuming goodwill looks something like this: if someone missed a coffee date and didn’t call or answer your text…you’d assume that a) hopefully they’re OK b) something urgent came up or happened c) they’ll fill you in when they can.
Second, ask why you’re really upset. Many times, our frustration and feelings have less to do with the other person and more to do with what’s going on with us. Maybe something like this happened in the past, or maybe it’s a soft spot for us emotionally, or maybe it triggered some of our fears of not belonging. Whatever it is, it’s important to understand what you’re really feeling and why, which can be solved by taking some time to ask yourself, “What am I really feeling and why?”
Third, communicate directly. This is always the hard part. But if you come from a place of goodwill, and you’ve taken the time to understand what your feelings are really about, you’ll have more success communicating effectively. It’s important that we don’t sweep things under the rug where they can build up. Rather, we need to share how something made us feel, what those actions meant to us and how we perceived their intention. One of my favorite ways to do this is using a tool from Dr. Brene Brown and saying, “The story I’m making up ….” So, for the earlier example, you’d say, “The story I’m making up when you didn’t come to our coffee date is that you don’t value our friendship enough to come or to communicate you can’t make it. Which makes me feel sad and hurt.” By saying “the story I’m making up…” it immediately shows that you know that’s most likely not their intention, but it’s still the reality of your feelings.
Relationships are worth working on. And interestingly, sometimes we can learn the most about others and ourselves when things aren’t going smoothly. So, if you’re upset with someone right now or in the future, take it as an opportunity to learn.
For more great advice from Maxie, read her book, You’re Not Lost.