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Sometimes, It's So Hard To Be Kind!


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I hate to admit this, but deep down, sometimes I have difficulty being kind when people are irritating me or making me frustrated. I'm not a person who's prone to real "anger" very often, but I do struggle with patience sometimes. I get irritated and I can't always hide it, and then I feel bad after.

 

A great example of this is my job. I'm a teacher (adult ESL) and most of my students are totally awesome. There are always a couple, though, who push every button I have. It is very frustrating to deal with these people, and no matter how much I try to focus on my tasks, remind myself of their struggles, tell myself to just not be so short with them, sometimes I can't help it.

 

I'm not saying these people are always innocent - it's frustrating as an educator to have people in your class who just really don't care, especially when they don't take any steps to even *hide* their lack of interest. However, while I'm not responsible for their actions, I am responsible for mine.

 

I just finished up with one of my most frustrating cases. (I should add - I work one-to-one over the internet instead of in a traditional classroom setting). She is a good person but definitely one of my flightier students. Whenever we have our classes, I find myself biting my tongue, or else being so fake-cheerful that I even irritate myself.

 

When faced with this type of situation, how do you cope? We are called to love all people and not judge them but show them kindness, and yet sometimes it's just so difficult.

 

(Before anyone asks: yes, we have policies in place for students to handle issues of attendance, homework completion, and attitude problems...this student isn't actually doing anything that falls under any of those policieis.)

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To me, one cannot be irritated unless one is requiring this moment be different than what it is. i have come to accept what is, as what is, and then ask myself if it is in my power to change or modify what will be in the next moment, in a positive way. If so, i will take action from a calm place inside where wisdom lies and do my best without requiring particular results. In this way, i am never disappointed because after all, all i can do is my best and leave the rest to one greater than i who i trust and see from experience sees the whole picture. The serenity prayer says it well.

 

Joseph

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I certainly agree with Joseph - though I will admit to being "unloving" at times! I honestly don't personally know anybody who doesn't get angry, annoyed or frustrated at times. The people who seem the most loving are those who ackowledge the feeling and move on. I'm not so good at the "move on" bit, though I'm getting better at it! :rolleyes:

 

(That was a really helpful post,wasn't it?)

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Yvonne,

 

I will admit to nothing. :P Just kidding. Getting angry, frustrated,or irritated at times is a normal response of the ego. As you suggest, just recognizing it and moving on is enough. The ego is in my experience defused a bit each time we become aware of it. As we do, we no longer act unconsciously to our conditioning. Focusing on the feeling in my view is most effective to see it for what it is and remove some of the power it seems to have over us.

 

Joseph

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So essentially, accept it for what it is and don't get stuck on it? (Are you two sure you're not Buddhists?! :P )

 

Joseph, you're right about the ego. Often when I'm feeling frustrated, my thought process is something like, "Why can't they just do what I've asked them? Why do they have to question me all the time? I asked them to do _______ and they didn't - they're disrespecting me!" Me me me me me ... how sad is that.

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Not really sad. Just something we all must pass through as humankind. I found it wise never to beat yourself up over it as that is ego also. We have been accused of a Buddhist slant on this site but the fact is it doesn't matter from which religion (or none at all) ones teaching comes from. In my view, It is enough that it comes. There is wisdom everywhere.

 

Joseph

Edited by JosephM
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I did my own wanderings in the Buddhist world, and while it wasn't (entirely) for me, I feel a Buddhist slant doesn't hurt. There is wisdom to be found there, like everywhere else.

 

With my job issue in particular, I think part of my problem is that many of my students are at least 10 years older than I am, if not old enough to be my parents. I think I feel extra slighted because by them not doing what I've asked (attending their session on time, completing homework assignments, letting me finish speaking before they interrupt me) I feel like they're looking down on me or not taking me seriously because of my age - whether it's true or not, whether it's understandable or not, it's part of it.

 

It's hard to let go of those personal feelings and feel compassion, though it's something I do TRY to do. When faced with a difficult person (or a person in a difficult situation) I try very hard to see things from their perspective, and ask myself, "Is this really harming me?" Intellectually I know the answer, but checking myself against my mounting frustration or wounded ego is different.

Edited by Raven
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Truly experiencing the hurt even without words or self instruction, in my view, brings on a healing because that which is truly aware of the feeling is greater than the ego (mind) which is constantly comparing that which is to what it wants. It is enough to acknowledge and experience the feeling of frustration or anger because when it is consciously experienced and acknowledged and accepted as what is for the moment, that which is greater sheds light on the subject and starts a healing where there was darkness (unconsciousness - no real conscious seeing of what is taking place - acting out of your conditioning) Anyway, that is my take on it for what its worth in words.

Joseph

 

PS Actually it may be so simple it is often overlooked. Perhaps you are trying too hard to be perfect when you already are but just don't know it. :unsure::) Somewhere it is written "Be ye therefor perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect" Must be possible when properly understood if it is true? Be kind to yourself and it may reflect in others.

Edited by JosephM
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Dutch,

 

Some teachers are awful! I know I had a few too, that nearly ruined my love of learning for basically calling me stupid - I'm not stupid; I just struggle in areas like math and science...oh, to live in a world where I never had to do math again. :rolleyes: Happy day!

 

Joseph, thanks for your thoughts. I have always struggled with being kind to myself. My mother always tells me, "You're your worst critic!" It's true. I feel agitated when I feel uncertain in my situations (like my job), and I feel agitated when I feel I'm not good enough - and then I judge myself for being human (as if I should be something else??) and then of course, more agitation. I think it's partly good, because it keeps me from resting on my laurels and constantly trying to evolve. However, attacking your own self is unhealthy - taking it out on others is worse.

 

I have a couple of students in particular who are really a test of my patience and compassion. I wonder if I'm a test of theirs, too. Classes are done for the week, but I think next week I will to approach them in a different way. Clearly, the approach I'm using now is not helping me (or them) have a good experience together.

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Raven,

All my life, I used to be results oriented. Now i just enjoy doing the best i can (or am willing to do) for where i am now and let results take care of itself. Neither failure nor success is requisite in my doing. Of course, success is preferred but it matters little because i know it is short lived and impermanent in the scheme of things here . I find this approach most peaceful.

 

Durch,

 

:lol: You got me. And i think you took his advice!

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I am a teacher too. I taught math and science, but now I am teaching ESL at an at risk school. I know what you are saying about pushing buttons..........................I am pretty good at it. I feel a need to push the district and state buttons because their attitude and leadership sucks. Nevada is last is every category. I watch them move numbers around to make the administration look good, but under their commands they make the teachers look bad. I am an older teacher so I feel I must speak up because the younger teachers just want to keep their jobs so they just teach to the test as told. I look at it as Spiritual Practice. Last year the whole language arts department and ESL department quit. I was the one of the leaders against the district but was the only one to return as I need more spiritual practice. It was a real chess game as they made a move and I had to counter to attack or to protect myself. This year they are so nice to me even when I write letters or post what I feel is right. I love chess, this school game, and spiritual practice so I am blessed to get all three. The funny thing is I feel I am the student learning from every experience. A monk told me once to thank the people who push my buttons and get a reaction because they are showing me something to work on. Well back to work.

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Soma,

 

I can related to your experience - some work environments are very, very testing. I left another job because it was crushing my spirit and testing me too much. This job, however, provides a good amount of testing without too much drama. The stress I've been experiencing lately is my own, and I need to take ownership of that. I'm looking forward to a better week, by working on my own attitude and accepting that some things are within my power to alter, and some things are not.

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Recognizing when an environment or situation is a challenge, an opportunity for growth, or when it is simply crushing something in you or even downright toxic, is not always easy, or easy to decide what to do about. But even there, I suppose, is opportunity for learning and growth, in discerning when to stay and fight for something worthwhile, and when recognize you are just bashing your head into a brick wall and its best to walk away.

 

Jenell

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A great example of this is my job. I'm a teacher (adult ESL) and most of my students are totally awesome. There are always a couple, though, who push every button I have. It is very frustrating to deal with these people, and no matter how much I try to focus on my tasks, remind myself of their struggles, tell myself to just not be so short with them, sometimes I can't help it.

 

Being in the medical field I run into folks like this off and on. Looking back over my career, my dealings with these kinds of folks were my greatest successes. A colleague of mine very early on told me anyone can deal with the nice people only the truly compassionate can love the PIA.

 

The hardest thing for me was to not take the abuse personally.... knowing that it was their problem not mine removed the personal toxicity and allowed a clearer thought process of how the move this person toward a more normal interaction.

 

It is worth it.

 

steve

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Jenell,

 

You raise a great point. It's important to know whether you are working toward something bigger than yourself, or causing yourself greater pain. I had a job where I was causing myself pain (ironically, an environment full of people who identified as "Christian.") and the day I left was one of the greatest days ever.

 

I love the job I have now, but like all jobs, it brings a level of stress that sometimes eats at me. I in turn sometimes have trouble letting go of that stress, and not merging it with "student-created stress" and creating a larger problem. This job has taught me a lot, and I hope to have it for a while more.

 

Steve,

 

Thanks for your points. Any job that works directly with people has its stress, that's for sure. I appreciate your reminder - their problem, not mine. And yes, it's easy to love working with the fun people. When people grind your gears and stomp on your last nerve, it's hard to remember what you're working for, and to do it with optimism. You're right though - in the right job, it's worth it.

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I honestly feel I've made more mistakes, had more problems, in many ways and of many kinds, for having too often erred toward the stick it out, stay and fight side than for having been too quick to give up and walk away. The difference between what is stubborness and determination often lies merely in perspective, but can also be a matter of boldness to move on or fear of letting go of the familiar. Discernment here is much tougher than at first might seem!

 

I was both gifted with a strength and burdened with a weakness in have been raised up under parental philosopy of never give in, never give up, never be a quitter, if you start something you gotta finish it, never complain, never whine, never let people know you are vulnerable, never make people feel sorry for you, overall that when the going gets tough the tough get going kind of thing. I can look back now and see in how many ways, that parent raised me as the son he didn't have, lol. Yet with the crazy insistence, as the same time, of a woman's place being as a non-employed housewife and mother, subject to a man, who I was to respect as being stronger, smarter, and more capable than myself! I guess that did make me a pretty hard wife for my husbands to try to be married to! Added to my geneological heritage of roughly half rugged early Oklahoma and Texas pioneers taming the wild frontiert, the other half those that were trying to steal their horses and scalp them while they were doing so, any wonder I'm in many ways a person of great contrasts and often inner conflict as well!

 

While I've come to some better common sense about that kind of thing now, at least I think I have, lol, that no, not all things are going to turn out being worth sticking with, trying to finish, or to fight for, even if they miight have seemed so at the start. sometimes the strong thing IS to let go and walk away, not admitting defeat or failure, but it is still something I don't feel I'd as good at as I'd like to be.

 

A few years ago, I went through one of those periods in which i seemed to be getting a lot of 'sychronicity' related to matters of the need to learn better to "choose my battles wisely." It seems closely related to that last line of the "serenity prayer', of "the wisdom to know the difference." It is to learn to see more than whether I can change something or not, the courage to change something or the peace of accepting what I cannot, it is to try to see when even if it might be something I can change, or a battle i might be able to win, is it right to fight it or worth the cost of winning it to begin with? What is to be gained, what might be lost?

 

Jenell

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I think these matters of whether or not what you are doing is worthwhile, whether there is potential for gain, learning, accomplishment, or not, plays heavily on how patient or not we might be with difficulties and frustrations, especially toward other people.

for those of you in teaching roles, feeling you are accomplishing something worthwhile over all, with at least some of your students, can help make the PIA easier to bear. But more, I think how that is balancing, or not, in some one area of our life, whether it be at work, at home, somewhere like at church, can start getting carried out into other areas is a strong indicator of just how well its really working for you.

I've recognized in myself, when something in one area of my life isn;t going too well, before i realize what has happened, I'm being crancky and difficult with people that have nothing to do with that at all. So if i find myself getting easily irritated at others, when i realize it is hgappening, I know I need to look at all other areas in my life to see what might be not as it should be.

JenelI

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Jenell,

 

You're right - in the teaching field, it's easy to get focused on the end result. I can't speak for everyone, but most teachers I know (myself included) got into their field out of a genuine desire to help people, teach them something. For me, working with newcomers makes me feel like I'm really contributing to the community, and helping the students navigate their new lives. Maybe it's selfish, but I get a good feeling from it. When things go askew, it can be so frustrating.

 

My friend gave me a bookmark a few years ago. It's got a cartoon man (kind of like Ziggy) in the midst of a temper tantrum. The caption says, "Lord, give me patience - RIGHT NOW!" Haha it was a joke, but it's still true. Patience can be be so hard to find when you need it most. When you don't really need it, it's no problem.

 

Keeping your frustrations limited to the actual people involved is so important. Taking things out on other people isn't fair - but again, it's a human condition I guess.

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Unfortunately, whenwe ask God for patience, we are usually forgetting the only way for Him to give us more patience is to give us more opportunties to practice.

 

Jenell

 

No pain, no gain?

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