A few years ago, it didn't take much to ruin my day. A 10-second bad interaction with a stranger at the grocery store, on the street, or on social media and my whole day was "horrible."
Ruined by an idiot who just wanted to get me... at least that's what I wanted to believe.
It's fair to say I was mildly annoyed, annoyed, or irritated.You pick a word and it probably applies.
My stress level was unusually high for someone my age andMy ability to mentally swear at someone in my mind was worthy of a gold medal.
The bad days weighed more heavily on my head than the good ones and it felt like I was competing against the world.
I even remember thinking, "Gosh, Allison, you really need to learn not to let things get to you so much."...
It's definitely easier said than done, but I was desperate for a change. So I worked on it.I read books, listened to podcasts, and consumed any other personal development products that I thought would help.And thank God I am happy to report that I have improved tremendously in this area over time.
In fact, someone wrecked my car and I didn't have a single bad thought about them. My husband Josh and I were in the car and it was a really bad situation. Like a few meters from death.
I didn't panic or cry or scream or anything I would have done before. My whole day was a waste of time, but I didn't let it ruin my attitude or week or rob me of my zest for life. A far cry from my "take everything personally" mentality.
A true story
When I was in college I worked as a hostess at a new and very popular restaurant. Like a two-hour walk into standby time on a popular weekday. On one of those particularly busy days, I was the one who took down the names and handed out the pagers.
A family walked in and said they spoke to a certain hostess. I knew she answered the phone, so I thought nothing of it. I took their name and gave them a pager. 45 minutes later, they returned to the home stand quite upset.
Due to misunderstandings, I was unaware that I should send the family directly to the above host and manager. The mother spoke to the manager about her frustration and I could hear her from my work station. I looked up just in time to see her pointing at me and saying, "That's the girl who took our name!"...I was shocked.
One second everything was fine and the next I was being blamed for something I didn't even do.I was immediately angry and frustrated.Hurt and even embarrassed. I didn't like this woman I didn't even know.
The whole thing really shook me.
So much so that it interfered with my work for the rest of the night. I accidentally dropped and broke a glass salt shaker while cleaning the table next to them. Something I had never done before and never did again.
As I stood and swept next to them, I felt ashamed. Of course, that incident with the broken salt shaker solidified in their minds that I was bad at my job. I wanted to run and hide. I wanted to quit my job on the spot.
Above all,I wanted to know how to let go of the little things...
7 tips for not letting things bother you (even if they are small)
As you can see, I've come a long way since my broken salt shaker days. While it's still a work in progress because, honestly, certain things still bug me (but I'm working on it), I'm living my day to day much happier than before. Happier than I could have ever imagined.
So now I'm sharing the same tips and lessons I've learned to help you navigate how not to let things get to you too.
Let's break it down so you can see how I went from full panic mode to full zen mode in a major life adjustment like a car crash in a 5 second interaction.
If you look at the work history above as a whole, you can see that the part of the interaction that ruined my day probably took less than 5 seconds overall. It wasn't my fault, I didn't know I should have sent her straight to a manager and looking back there was definitely nothing I could have done differently.
So what happened?I took this woman's words as an attack on my character.
The message I heard was 'it's her fault', 'she's not a good host', 'I had to wait longer than promised and it's her fault'.
1) Identify what your feeling is
The first thing I learned was to ask myself, "How am I feeling?" so something happened that worried me.
was i upset Defensive? Pain? molested?
Whatever it was, I knew the first step to not letting something bother me was to find outdieit bothered me. The above story made me feel defensive and angry. I felt like this woman was going to attack me.
2) Ask yourself why you feel this way
Most of the time, I find that the reason I'm upset or angry about something is just a superficial reason.
Once you figure out what bothers you, ask yourself why it bothers you.
A deeper question is: “What isactuallydo you mind?"
Also: "What made you feel that way about what happened?"
Going through these thoughts can help get to the bottom of the matter.
My answer with the above story has already revealed itself a bit. I got defensive because she pointed this out to me and said I was the one who wrote her name, it made me feel like she blamed me.
It made me feel like she said I was doing my job wrong. That I wasn't good enough for my job.
It's not good enough.
A limiting belief. Arguably the underlying factor in negative belief or doubt for many people.
If you want to explore this further, consider a book that will guide you through the discovery of your limiting beliefs. my favorite isThe Great Leap: Overcome your hidden fear and take life to the next level.
3) Consider the truth
Here's the problem: I was angry because the message I got from that 5 second interaction was a complete stranger telling me I wasn't good enough for my job.
She took a step back, but didn't say those things. She literally informatively told the manager that I was the one who took her name.
When I used to get angry about something someone else did,it was in my nature to assume they meant the worst.The weird thing is that I personally know that I would never intentionally do anything to hurt anyone.
So why do I always automatically assume it was the other person?
Could she have meant that as an attack? Possibly, but even if she did, what would a complete stranger really know about how well I'm doing my job based on 5 seconds?
Not much. Not really.
So why does it bother me so much? Because it fed one of the lies I believed about myself. See, I wanted to be promoted to a server to make more money, but I wasn't. So I already told myself that I shouldn't be good enough at my job.
Finally we found the truth...I was frustrated because I didn't get the promotion I wanted. When your words were heard by a manager, I thought it was an attack on my character and ability to work.
Suddenly it's not really about her singled out me as the person who took her name.The problem is the underlying frustration I felt in my job.
This woman just triggered it.
It makes the little thing less important and allows me to focus on the real issue. I had to find out what my employers expected of me in order to get a promotion.
4) Look at the other side
Go through a list of things that could have been.
Let's look at this woman's side.Let's just say she attacked me and blamed me for this mess.
There? What could have happened to her that day that made her in such a bad mood?Neither she nor anyone else in the family looked very happy when they arrived. It is also very unusual for a manager to put a person's name at the top of a list.
Had they just returned from a funeral? Dropped a loved one off at college? Do you have terrible medical news? In the middle of a divorce? Involved in a car accident earlier that day? Has your family dog died?
The truth is that there could be a number of reasons why this woman was upset that had absolutely nothing to do with me.
That's life and crazy and horrible things happen all the time. It's 100% possible that this woman was going through something terrible and I took her words as a direct attack on me.
If the truth is, it could have been them who mumbled to hide the pain she really felt. Nothing personal about it.
There's a really great video that Mel Robbins made on the subject. I'll post it below in case you want to delve deeper into the idea.
5) Don't let a 10 second (or minute) ordeal ruin your whole day.
The number of times I left a few seconds or a few minutesTortureRuining my whole day now kind of surprises me.A whole day. A day I'll never come back to. I let this day be ruined by a woman pointing a finger at me.
Putting this into perspective along with all of the above considerations, I can't help but laugh.
I let someone else's bad day ruin mine. It's like shrugging at someone with a cold and saying, "Hey, share with me."
We would never do that. We want to say, "I'm sorry you have a cold, and I'll even run to the store to buy you some cold medicine, but please don't pass it on to me."
Whatever someone is going through, I feel for them. I'm really sorry this world is falling into bad hands. Anytime I can do something to help, I will.
However, I finally made the decision to no longer allow someone else's bad day, words, direction, or anything else to ruin my day. I choose to let the little things go because I can.
6) Find your confidence
By applying these tips I outlined above, I found that more often than not, the root reason I felt uncomfortable was because I perceived something as a direct attack on me.
Over the years I've found that I've become more confident,It helped me a lot not to take things so personally.It allowed me to say, "You may be upset, but I'm confident in who I am. Nothing you say or do will affect me because it doesn't affect my self-esteem.
Touch my confidenceIt's one of the reasons why I can now look at this woman pointing at me without being angry.Although she was mad at me and intended to hit me, I'm confident I did my job to the best of my ability.
I'm also confident I wouldn't have done anything to intentionally hurt her. Ultimately, I'm confident that if I had to go back and do it all over again, I wouldn't do anything differently. I couldn't even if I wanted to.
In short, tap into your confidence and you'll find how fewer things bother you.
You will learn not to let things bother you.
How to let the little things go.
How not to take things personally.
It's a very liberating place.
The truth is that I have never met a truly happy and cheerful person who puts others down on purpose. Only unhappy people try to ruin the happiness of others.
7) Consider if it's your fault
I spoke there. What nobody wants to hear. Sometimes the best way to let the little things slide is to recognize when it really is your fault. We hate hearing it or even thinking about it because our pride kicks in.
Ironically, when we're wrong, even if it's accidental,we tend to give it more importance because we are ashamed🇧🇷 When you acknowledge that something is your fault, instead of getting upset or fighting, just acknowledge it and move on.
We're all in the works.We all work to grow.
We hate doing this because it hurts, but think of how many times someone has done this. They admitted something was an accident and it was their fault and probably everyone forgave them and let it go.
Just something to consider.
How not to let things bother you at work
These 7 tips I gave above are super relevant in all walks of life. However, I want to take a moment to talk about some additional tips you can use to learn how not to let things get in your way, even at work. Mostly because it's such a big part of our lives.
Letting go of something small with a stranger on the street is so much easier when you know you'll never have to see that person again..It can be a different story if it happens repeatedly or affects the same person day after day.
Josh, my husband and I have worked in toxic environments before. So here are some extra tips on how to make the little things work, too.
Remember that work is not your life.
When it's a place you go almost every day, it can feel like work is your life. Take a metaphorical step back and think beyond the money factor to how influential your work is on your life as a whole.
Many of us are so used to the 9-5 hour paid job that it's really hard for us to open up to the concept that your job isn't your life. Your family, friends and above all yourself, this is your life.
If you're spending your time focused at home or contemplating your next work shift, learn to let work be at work.Reacquaint yourself with the things that bring you happiness, sparkHappiness,and inspiration.Concentrate on these things when you are at home.
A new perspective we've been adopting lately is that we don't live to work. We work to live. Switching to this mindset has been a very peaceful and happy thing for us.
Set boundaries and talk about them
From what we've talked about, I've found that our frustration often stems from feeling like people are walking past us. People do things that annoy us and we think we have no power to do anything...
Unless you do.
One of the things I learned was to set clear boundaries. It took me some time to get deep into what I was comfortable with; what I wasn't. I wrote down what was important to me and what my general values were.
With this attitudeI started talking about things more cautiously.If someone has done something that makes me uncomfortable, I let them know. Most of the time they didn't know it bothered me.
When something happened that I thought made no sense, I asked for clarification. If someone did something I didn't like, I would kindly ask them to do it differently next time.
Often the things that frustrate us are due to a lack of communication.So my tip here is to set yourself limits and then carefully but consistently stick to them.
You don't want to look like an idiot, you want to look like someone who knows what they want and what they stand for.
get your power back
I read something the other day, I don't remember what it was, but basically that's what it saidWhenever we get upset and bothered by something someone else has done, we lock our feelings in jail and give them the key.
It's a powerful insight.When we allow other people to anger us for stupid things, we let them control our emotions.
So my best advice here is to reclaim your power. Just decide that they're not going to have that kind of power over you.
On the other hand, we also tend to allow our worry about upsetting others to control our emotions and actions.
I used to be so bad at it. I didn't want to upset anyone, so even if it meant making me uncomfortable, I stayed out of the way so as not to upset her.
The truth is, as long as I'm just myself and not intentionally getting someone else, I can't control how they feel. And trying drove me crazy.
When someone gets upset with me about something unintentional, rather than being offended or having a quick fix, I realized it was their problem.
I'm proud to say that I was much better at it. Someone recently got upset with me for not giving them any information. Instead of making them make me feel bad, I just said, “I'll tell you. All you have to do is ask. Literally that easy.
Get your power back.
Have a grounding mantra
Finally, for the days when things get really tough (anytime really), have a grounding mantra. Think of a phrase that will help you reset yourself mentally.
Mel Robbins teaches this and it's a great technique🇧🇷 When you find yourself getting upset, interrupt your thoughts by counting down. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then write your main idea.
Creating a keynote focuses on something positive in the future.For example, a basic idea might have come to me when I was working in a restaurant at university.
Something like, "This job is temporary, but the money I earn today to pay for my college tuition will help me take a step toward my dream job."
It's the mantra that reminds me why I'm there, what's important, and helps me refocus.In practice, it seems like I'd start to get frustrated when I realized this and then I'd be like, '5, 4, 3, 2, 1, this job is temporary, but the money I'm making today , will help me pay my tuition and take a step toward my dream job.”
I base myself on why I had this job and not on the little things that go on.
It helps you focus on the things you should be grateful for versus the things that aren't going well.
I hope you have some tips up your sleeve to try next time something happens that bothers you, but you wish you hadn't!
Don't expect everything to be perfect the first time.It takes practice and time to get used to a new way of thinking.Be patient, persist, and revise this post if you must.
In closing, while these tips are great for random everyday stuff, if something dangerous happens, don't ignore it. When your physical, mental, or emotional well-being is in question, it's no small matter.
My point is if you get cut off in traffic or a friend accidentally breaks your favorite mug, you should let that go.
However, if you experience any form of abuse such as bullying at work or school, report it and then work with yourself or a professional as necessary.
Well, there it is! My top tips for not letting the little things bother you. I hope that is exactly what you needed to hear today and that it will be of use to you in the days to come.