How to Master Relationships and Gain More Peace

There I was in the restroom/washroom at a restaurant washing my hands and an inebriated woman handed me a paper towel.

“Thank you, but I can get my own,” I said smiling, because after all, we are in a pandemic and I have been known to be a little anal over not getting Covid. She looked at me askance and then it dawned on her.

“I don’t have this covid thing. I’m totally fine, but alright,” she shrugged. Then she asked the question that everyone is asking nowadays. “Are you vaccinated?”

“Absolutely. I have my two doses.” I fully expected her to say the same. Just then another woman walked in and I watched these two women high five each other, shouting with glee, dropping f-bombs and declaring with enthusiasm, “I ain’t getting that f—king vaccine. I ain’t giving that … vaccine to my kid.”

“I’m outta here,” I said to no-one, because they weren’t even listening.

At first, because I’m human, I was a little upset, thinking that if only everyone was vaccinated, then we could hopefully eradicate COVID-19, much in the same way that polio and smallpox have been eradicated. Like everyone else, I want this pandemic to be over. There is one thing however, that will never be over. It is our erroneous expectation that people will somehow think and act the way we do and then when they don’t, we’re somehow surprised, annoyed, angered or offended.

The same way we are free to think, say and do whatever we want (within reason of course), so are other people. This means that if we want our lives and our relationships to work, if we want to be content, loving to others, and at peace with ourselves, we have to live and let live. This is harder than it seems. It means that when people say or do things to us that we would never do to them, don’t take it personally. It means not allowing our anger and disappointment to ruin our day.

I’ve chosen to get the vaccine and to vaccinate my children. I feel safer this way. But I also acknowledge there are people who are fearful of the vaccine, people who do not trust the vaccine, people who know other people who have been harmed by vaccines in general, people who say they are so busy they don’t have time to get the vaccine and I could go on and on. The reality is each person living his or her life will do exactly what they want to do for their own reasons. We cannot impose our will on anyone else. So the next time you disagree with someone’s vaccine views, the best thing to do is simply acknowledge how they feel and change the subject. You won’t be able to change their minds. This is not to say someone’s mind can’t be changed about the vaccine, but they’ll change their own minds when they’re ready.

One of my students told me that she doesn’t get along with her father because he doesn’t call her, ever. Her mother calls her every day. I thought it was a pity that she measured his love for her by a phone call. But then, I thought about my own father and how I did the same thing a long time ago. He rarely calls and back in my twenties, I measured his love for me by how often he called me. As I got older, I realized this was ridiculous. He loves me whether or not he calls. If I miss him, I’ll call him. Some mothers call their adult children every day. I don’t. It doesn’t mean I love my children any less.

This is important for all kinds of behaviours and all kinds of relationships. You may bring your spouse coffee every morning and get annoyed when they don’t reciprocate. Maybe they have a different way of showing love. (This is why that book Love Language is so popular). It takes a helluva lot of work to allow people to be themselves, to look for the good and not the negative, to actually try and understand someone else’s point of view.

It is inevitable that someone will piss you off. For me, it’s when I’m in a public restroom and someone rushes out of the stall and doesn’t wash their hands. I get self-righteous and irate, thinking I would never do that and how gross. Unless you’re going to take action like my Aunt C and remind them that the soap dispenser works, the best thing to do is realize there’s not much you can do to change another adult person’s behaviour. They are free to not wash their hands as much as you are free to wash yours. Getting upset isn’t changing them, but it’s making your life a little more unpleasant as you silently fume, wishing you could call them out and haul them back into the washroom like a child.

And so, whether it is vaccine views, hand washing habits, work ethics, discourteous behaviour, blunt and thoughtless words, bad driving, etc., our relationships and peace will improve when we realize that we are all free to think, say and do what we want. Two, we cannot expect other people to do what we want them to do. Three, since we are all free and do what we want anyway, don’t take any of it personally. None of it. Shrug it off and focus on your goals. Don’t waste a minute of your precious energy wondering how other people can be so different from you.

Live your life. Let others live theirs.

8 replies
  1. Clinton
    Clinton says:

    Love this so much Peta-Gaye, right on point and to the point. I get so frustrated with what I consider people that have no regard for others and who are inconsiderate, then I realize I am only hurting myself. Really appreciate this ppst.

  2. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    Peta-Gaye I just love your insight into everyday matters and the clarity with which you express your thoughts.
    I bought many of your children’s books think 7, and am enjoying ‘I Too Hear the Drums’. You are a gifted writer.

  3. Elaine Hirn
    Elaine Hirn says:

    Well said Petagay. It kind of goes against the grain but as you say, in the end everyone is entitled to their own opinions as who are we to think our opinions are what matters.

  4. Arlene Gerofsky
    Arlene Gerofsky says:

    I love what you wrote and agree with the sentiment wholeheartedly! While we may be free to choose at the moment, we’re soon going to lose our freedom of choice. Unfortunately, this freedom and others (I.e. freedom of speech) are being eroded daily. T’is a sad and scary state of affairs.

  5. Julie-Ann
    Julie-Ann says:

    Very interesting read, particularly given the polarizing (vaccine-anti vaccine) climate we are in. Thank you!

  6. Joseph Rhoden
    Joseph Rhoden says:

    You hit the nail on the head with your blog. I think that most if not all of us have similar experiences with the AH of this world. I enjoyed reading it.

  7. Natasha Frost
    Natasha Frost says:

    Hello PG!!! It’s Tasha Abrahams , now Frost. Loved your thoughts and reflections. I am double vaccinated and got Covid three weeks a go… I am always masked and went to a work event in a hotel which was required. We had a wine tasting and I had to take my mask off for that, as well as lunch…
    I do believe in choice, but after you get it even after taking so much precaution, you realize this will get to everyone at some point.. my family were spared this time as I went into full isolation for ten days… this was probably because of the vaccines. I highly encourage people to do their homework on just how long these vaccines have been in the works.. no one cared about getting their Measles Mumps and Rubella vaccines .. this is just like that.. because if not, you may not survive, or you will pass it to a loved one who may not.. i was with friends , one pregnant, the day before my symptoms showed up.. I was so worried about who I may have infected. Thank god she was vaccinated and she is fine… all who I saw to my knowledge are fine.. that’s the peace this vaccine gave me. And that I had a much stronger chance of getting better, getting my smell and taste back.. continuing to be a mother and wife to my family whom I love soooo much. I know this is long.. but I think good for people to hear. Sending love to you and family. Tash

    • Peta-Gaye Nash
      Peta-Gaye Nash says:

      Hi Tasha,
      Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m so glad you’re healthy again. I feel much safer with my entire family vaccinated but I know there are still risks. I also feel it’s a matter of time before most of us get it and admittedly, I’m terrified. Thanks again.

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