Carl Jung, a famous Swiss psychiatrist, said: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”. In my interactive workshops I use many coaching exercises, and one of them reveals exactly this aspect: what we don’t like in others, it’s a reflection of what’s missing in our own lives, or something that we didn’t learn to embrace yet.
AZ, a participant in one of my workshops allowed me to share with you his experience: “I don’t like when someone wants to control my life: calling me often, giving advice and expecting me to comply all the time!”, said a AZ by the end of the workshop.
GC: “It seems that you feel frustrated when it happens. Even now, by talking about this, the frustration shows up.”
AZ: “Of course, I want to be independent! I don’t like people that are over my shoulder all the time!”.
GC: “Let’s assume, for the purpose of the exercise, that 2 % of this is true about you: that you also like to control others, but only 2%. How does this serve you? “
AZ: “I don’t know, how could this serve me?!”
GC: “What could you gain by trying to control others, sometimes? If you don’t know, take the posture of someone who is controlling, and see what comes up.”
AZ (straightening his back, looking directly in front of him): “ It looks like I’m confident, I believe in my ideas.”
GC: “What else?”
AZ: “I care about people, I love them, that’s why I like to share my ideas.”
GC: “OK, what else?”
AZ:”I expect them to comply, because I know that these are good ideas.”
GC: “See, you can also find good things about trying to control others. How much control do you have on your own life? How confident are you about your own ideas?”
AZ: “You’re right, I should take control about my own life: not to allow others to control me! I have good ideas too, but often I allow others to take over my time and I can’t do too much of what I want to do.”
Then I asked AZ to forward an action regarding his insight, so he can implement it in his life from now on. He used to spend a lot of time on the phone, his friends calling him often. He chose to be more careful with his own time, so he can achieve much more from now on. He looked more determined to do that, and he showed me that he could … when a friend called him few minutes later.
Anais Nin said “We don’t see things as they are… We see things as we are.”
What irritates you about others? What can you learn from it about yourself?