What are some tips for managing anxiety and stress when dealing with people?
Back-in-the-day, I had a stint as a driving instructor. Not to blow my own trumpet or anything, but I wasn’t half bad (30 years ago that is). So, in that spirit, and clinging to the rather dubious memory of my teaching prowess, when my son turned seventeen, I enthusiastically dashed out and bought some ‘L’ plates.
Things were ticking along quite nicely on our carefully planned routes, the easy left and right turns with a sprinkling of mini roundabouts. I was feeling pretty smug with myself and promised a more adventurous outing soon.
On the morning of said adventure, I had already:
- been salty from a disagreement with my husband
- trodden in the dog sick I had inadvertently smeared like peanut butter along the floor when opening the living room door
- taken a call from my eighty-five-year-old dad’s care home to say he’d done a commando roll out of bed (again).
Still, I have a blind spot when it comes to my son and I had promised, so off we went. Suffice to say, my dark mood created the perfect storm with an ill-thought-out route followed by a white-knuckle ride of epic proportions – our combined potty mouths alone should have seen us kneeling on rice for at least a week as penance! Point being I knew, after I screeched like an unhinged banshee “pull over somewhere safe of the left”, that this was absolutely 100% my bad – we had run a red light, literally and metaphorically.
That morning should have started with an apology, not ended in one. I’m sorry, I can’t take you out at this moment, let’s circle back when I’ve properly dealt with a/b & c. By taking a step-back, reflecting on our triggers and owning our behaviours we can make better (sometimes safer) choices and be more agreeable to be around. Similarly, navigating the negative behaviours of other people can feel overwhelming. I’m not saying we should support ‘difficult’ behaviour, but what we can do is take a beat, try not to take things personally, perhaps flip our view to see things from their perspective. Remember, you can only be in control of own journey. Try not to judge others without taking the time to understand what is driving their behaviour – be assured they are busy trying to navigating their own journey too.
Lesson learned. Well, in progress at any rate.