I was traveling on a Sunday. My least favorite day to travel. Not because it’s harder at the airport, but because I really don’t enjoy being away from my wife on a Sunday. It’s just part of who I’ve become. That probably started my “irritation” with others.
I’m sitting at my gate waiting for my flight when a lady sits down next to the person who was next to me. Immediately she started talking to the woman next to me. I sat there for several minutes, and I’m not sure the woman talking even took a breath. It bothered me, but I couldn’t figure out why. I just knew this was not what I wanted to hear. So I got up and moved to another section of the waiting area.
When I boarded the plane, I sat on the aisle, as I usually do. The talkative woman boarded and sat in the window seat in the row of seats across the aisle from me. Her voice carried as she started talking to her seat mate. I put my headphones in and thanked God that she didn’t sit next to me. I was irritated again.
When we landed I pulled my headphones off and again, the lady was talking nonstop. She was getting into some pretty personal details about a family member’s relationship with her husband. I wondered how this lady could do that with a total stranger. What was driving this need to talk so much and to tell such intimate details. I wondered about the psychology behind her compulsive needs. Then it dawned on me, that the real challenge was with me.
I had made a choice to let her conversation, that wasn’t with me at all, bother me. I had made a choice to let an external force, who hadn’t even noticed me, irritate me. What was wrong with me?
I have a friend that was my boss over 20 years ago, that I had not reached out to in over 10 years. I had it in my mind that he was disappointed in me and really didn’t like me, so there was no reason to reach out. When I finally got over my barriers, I called him and we talked for 90 minutes, just catching up. There was no barrier, except the one I had created for myself. Why do I do that?
In our practice, we have used several assessment tools to evaluate individual preferences. These tools are helpful, but the real benefit is the debriefing sessions where you talk to the individuals about their results. It turns into some pretty informative conversations. We are having a safe conversation about the individual and their personal and business life. The conversation can expose some pretty raw nerves. Most feel they are not good enough. They see “successful” people all around them and they feel like they can’t possibly do the same things.
I see it in myself, just as I see it in others. When we look externally and we don’t see the internal component and the way our internal unskillful thoughts drive our actions, we can’t be successful. We feel like a fraud. The only way to overcome this is to spend the time understanding how our internal doubts create stress for us. They create poor results and poor performance.
As I sat at dinner last evening, I was thinking about how I had let another person steal my energy, and I realized “I” had let another steal my energy. I had let it bother me because it was a reflection of me. I wouldn’t share those types of details with a stranger, but for her, it could have been a release. It’s not my place to judge. So let it go. It’s a choice. I’ve learned.