I work as an eye care specialist in community practice. There is another member of staff whose views on pretty much everything differs from mine. It upsets me to be in the same room as them. I like my job and the other staff members are okay but I’m thinking of leaving. What should I do?

This is a difficult situation to be in. I know because I’ve been in the same situation many times. The behaviour of some people is awful. Not just at work but on the commute to and from work (on public transport and in my car), and sometimes even with family members.

I used to find these things upsetting. They’d really get to me and spoil part of my day, sometimes all of my day, sometimes my commute. I say I used to because now (most of the time) I don’t let them upset.

My change came when I read the following piece of philosophy:

‘[Don’t] make [yourself] the slave of other people’s ignorance.’

I now understand the way that circumstances and backgrounds and environments can lead to behaviour that I disagree with. I can take a position I disagree with and understand why someone would take that position or behave in a certain way. I’m able to say, ‘I don’t agree, but I understand.’

I no longer let other people’s behaviour upset me. I don’t give people the power to upset me. If I get cut up by another driver I think that maybe they are rushing to a hospital or that they have been fired at work and are upset, or that they had a bad driving instructor and it’s not really their fault. I don’t get upset because then they have power over my emotions. I choose to reserve that power for myself.

Recently and work colleague apologised to me for making me upset. I told them that they didn’t have the power to make me upset.

Some people behave badly because of ignorance. Don’t let their ignorance infect you. Don’t let their ignorance make you behave badly. If you do they have won; they have power over you.

The next time someone behaves badly take a moment and say to yourself:

 ‘[Don’t] make [yourself] the slave of other people’s ignorance.’

 Their bad behaviour will soon pass and you will retain all the power.


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