Dealing with Negative Emotions

This is a repost of what I said in a public discussion that was deleted. An anonymous person wrote, asking about how to deal with other people’s mistakes:

[When having discussions that don’t go well,] I find it frustrating, and my frustration then becomes their main focus— they’re no longer listening to the words at all, but putting all their effort into trying to guess why I’m frustrated and what I want them to say.

You are seeing their mistakes in the conversation, but getting frustrated is a major mistake that you are making. You should be able to have discussions where other people say things that you disagree with or think are wrong – including things that are wrong in more meta ways, like taking the wrong approach to the discussion – without feeling and reacting with negative emotions.

If you were able to have the discussion without negative emotions, you would be in a better position to think clearly and figure out the best way to explain your point, or figure out a different way to approach the discussion that might be more helpful.

Your own negative emotions are a major problem in the discussions right now, and they are one of the things you can actually work at solving on your own, without the participation of the people you are having trouble discussing with. So understanding and changing your emotions would be a good place to start if your goal is to have discussion with people. And, it is a useful problem to work on even if you end up changing your goal.

Understanding and changing emotions is difficult, and requires a lot of other steps. So it isn’t something most people can just quickly do – it isn’t an easy fix that you can just quickly implement, and then go back to your original goal right away.

You would be taking a step back from trying to discuss difficult things with other people until you have a better grasp on how to solve problems within your own mind. This is the approach most people should take – solving problems with two different people is harder than solving problems with only one person.

Solving your own internal problems will give you problem solving practice that you can later use when you want to solve problems with other people. Being calm will make it easier to stay rational and figure out the best way to approach problems with other people. And solving problems within yourself can be done even when the other people in your life aren’t interested in the project – it doesn’t require their cooperation. It is a way to improve your relationships and discussion that doesn’t rely on the other person doing anything.

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I remember that, originally, your post got a negative response (with some ambiguity) from the person you were replying to. Lots of people seem to want discussion about how other people are bad, but don’t want self-improvement stuff. It’s an ongoing problem.