Picking your battles

My husband drinks directly out of the milk bottle. He removes the lid, takes a swig, replaces the lid and puts the milk back in the fridge.

It is one of those things that gross me out; however, now, after many years of expressing my displeasure, have decided not to comment. Commenting didn’t change anything, and the irritation took energy from me, not my husband.

I don’t actually know why it is a practice hated by many – I suspect it is around germs however I have no idea if there is scientific evidence to prove that it is as disgusting as some of us may think.

There will be those of you reading that do not care and I suspect, many who do and are revolted right now.

So why do I mention it?

Well, I can assure you this is not a blog about the germ infestation that occurs on milk bottle rims that have come in contact with human mouths.

It is about the lessons I have learned around picking my battles.

Because in my 50’s one lesson I have learned above all others is to pick my battles.

To decide what is really important and what is just not.

Living with people is fraught.

 It is impossible to find someone who views the world entirely like you, practices the same habits as you and is irritated by the same things you are. (if you do then I suspect one of you is keeping your mouth shut!)

Workplaces are even more fraught because our work environments are full of people we would have not necessarily chosen to spend time with.

My husband is not perfect, and neither am I (although I am closer than he is 😊)

Commenting on all things great and small diminishes who you are commenting on and certainly does not put them in the space of being loving towards you.

When we consistently project our irritation onto those around us whom we perceive as the cause of our irritation, our life can become layers of negativity, low energy and generally not being a nice person.

It would be interesting for me to list all the things that irritate me; however, the list would be a manifesto of things that are actually not important.

I suspect that if you have created a culture either at work or at home, where comments on everything are frequent, then the safety to discuss what really matters, has long been removed.

I wrote a blog previously about people finding the courage to tell the unsavoury truth. This is what really matters and will be killed if it is blocked by the death of trust through comments on everything.

I watched a video with Brene Brown talking about trust, and one of the things she said was trust is built in the small things.

The small important things that are said as well as the little things that are left in the silence.

Just to be clear, I am not talking about the things that really count. I think holding self-respect over pleasing others is vital.

It is knowing what is important and what is just not.

I am sure you can all think of a circumstance where someone has, or you have, made a comment about someone’s actions, behaviour or words, that did not add to the situation.

Instead, the risk was that another layer would be added to an already thick armour.

We do it to our partners.

We do it to our children, and we do it to our workmates.

And what do we achieve?

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

The next time someone does something you find irritating take a breath, ask yourself if it really matters and opt for silence when it is the best option.

Not the safer option – the best option.

There is grace in the silence.

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