How to deal with irrational people
Summary: As a meditator you are learning skills that help you deal with people who seem irrational. Sathi outlines several approaches you can take that will keep you from getting involved in that person’s drama.
- Understanding why that person seems irrational to you.
- Showing compassion and understanding based on the saying, “Turtles can’t fly.”
- Maintaining your own mindfulness and not getting being ‘hooked’ by the other person’s actions or words
- Setting an example of calmness, mindfulness, and compassion.
How would you deal with a person who is irrational?
When someone is being irrational, you will only have trouble if you disagree with that person. When you are disagreeing with that person, you will have trouble. There are a lot of other rational situations you will agree with.
Think about somebody who has your political view. And that person is saying something, then that person is sharing rationally. Then you would agree with it. You won’t have trouble with that person. You will have trouble with the person if that person is saying something against you way of thinking. Where is the trouble?
Where is the trouble? The trouble is with us. Especially when that is hurtful. If it is blaming you or really expressing anger, then you become a victim of that person’s irrational behavior. That is where you have trouble.
The meditator will have a different approach. The meditator’s approach is knowing that the other person don’t have the ability to think a hundred percent correctly. They are blind. When they are stuck with their own way of thinking, they mislead themselves. But, if it is complaining to you or blaming you, then you would say, this person cannot see me. That is why this person is doing this accusation or complaining. Or, thinking in this way, blaming me. Because this person cannot understand as I do. You will think, this person does not have the capacity. to understand.
There’s a saying in most Asian cultures. The saying is a tortoise cannot fly. This means most people do not have the capacity to understand or see clearly. If you think that way, what will happen? You will stop fighting this person and you will protect yourself by not involving with that person’s way of thinking.
We have desire. Our desire is, we want that person to understand us and describe how we want that person to think. If that happened we would not say, “Oh, that person is irrational.” Instead we will say “You are seeing this clearly. Thank you for seeing this!” You have trouble if that person doesn’t understand. The mindful person will notice how this is raising anger in themselves. Frustration, uncomfortableness, and anxiety.
The mindful person will protect his or herself right away by not involving.
Just think, if somebody is mentally ill, I hope I’m using the ok term, if somebody is mentally disturbed or ill, you would have a lot of sympathy for that person. Whatever that person is saying or doing you would know that this person is acting this way because he or she is not well. You will have a lot of sympathy. You may take that person to the hospital or treat that person kindly, knowing that person is not well. At that point you would know that that person is not well.
In our day to day life you can see a lot of situations where there are people that are not well when they have been attacked by anger. When they get attacked by frustration, anxiety, fear, we are losing our healthy mind. When we don’t know how we act we become mentally unwell. We cannot take care of anyone else because we do not know how to take care of ourselves. You see, it is our nature. It is common. But, unfortunately, when that happens to other people, we don’t recognize it. We don’t recognize it. We think, “Oh this person is well, is thinking well and this person is making this judgement.”
So, I’m explaining the approach of the meditator. In the ordinary world, we don’t have that training. The meditator’s approach is different. The meditator thinks, “Oh yes, they are going through this kind of thing and I don’t get involved with it now.”
Just like, the way the medical establishment or hospital takes care of the patient. Before they take care of the patient, they have to be well. That is why they are taking all the vaccines and immunizations in order to maintain their health. That way they can take care of others. The mindful person will be the same way. By knowing the entire society might be going through some kind of difficulties without having this “immunity”.
The biggest benefit [for the meditator] is that you would not fight with it. You will not suffer because of someone else’s irrationality. You will not become “ill” or “unwell” because of another person’ irrationality. That is how the meditator will handle it.
You can laugh at this person. Not at this person’s face! to make them angry [laughing] Instead you say, “I think you are right, I have to do something else now.” and slowly wean yourself from that person. I know that is tough being that way, but you will enjoy it when you do it.
Any other thoughts? Any other questions?[A meditator asks] I consider a friend of mine irrational in some ways. But, I’m labeling that, and I would be happier to change her mind right? But, if I tried to be neutral, maybe at the very least I could learn more about her. I don’t know if there is a place for that. [Sathi replies] Now look at that, your desire. Your desire to learn about her through that [experience]. As long as you have that “hook” you can easily get hooked into something.
But, think about this. In your family, There is something in your relationship especially if it is your person, you can’t get rid of your parents at all. Your parents are there for your lifetime. If it is one of your kids, you can get rid of them. No matter who they are or how they think.
So, in that kind of situation, you are better to learn how to be there for them. Do your best. Maintain your peacefulness. Once you maintain your peacefulness and then you are being an example.
If somebody at your home is making the living room a mess, what do you do? There are only three choices. You leave the room letting that person to maintain the mess, or you can start to re-arrange the room, continuously, maybe frequently, or, [laughing] I’m not talking about you…. So, as a family member, what can you do? You cannot avoid it totally. You cannot chase that person away from the house. It doesn’t matter how many times you mention it, that person remains the same way.
But, if you keep cleaning the room one day, that person might see it, change their way of thinking. This is the very same thing that you do for the family member, As long as you are frustrated with the irrational mind of your family member, or somebody close to you, As long as you are with that person you are suffering. Because you are fighting inside.
Oh, I’ll give you another solution: Bring that person to meditation. [laughing] Maybe we can encourage that person to be mindful.
I think we can stop here. It is wonderful to see all of you. Now we are getting towards summer. I hope you continue to come to meditation. You cannot complain of bad roads and snow. Thank you and have a wonderful week.
Recorded on April 15, 2019 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Mankato, Minnesota.
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