“Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an Easy Button for life?” This question is the tag line to a TV commercial by the office supplies store, Staples.

The ad depicts people in various predicaments, including a bewildered boy called on by his teacher, a dad trying to change two babies’ diapers at the same time, and surgeons about to perform an unfamiliar procedure. Each of these people, at the critical moment, pushes a big button with the word, “Easy” written on it, to get them through a difficult situation. (Then, of course, you are reminded that doing business with Staples is easy.)

This commercial got me thinking, “What if there were an Easy Button for my inner brat?” Just one zap, and it’s gone.

I wish. Unfortunately there is no sure-fire way to banish the inner brat altogether.

But there is one simple, yet powerful tool to stop the inner brat dead in its tracks, especially when you’re angry, fuming, pouting, embarrassed or feeling jealous. This tool is the following sentence:

“It’s not about me.”

Commit that sentence to memory. It’s going to come in handy:
-- when people make sarcastic remarks
-- when they don’t return your phone calls
-- when they brag about themselves
-- when they nag you
-- when they don’t thank you for a gift or favor
-- when they take advantage of you

Zap. “It’s not about me.”

All the situations listed above describe other people behaving in a critical, demeaning or inconsiderate manner. You may happen to be the brunt of their inner brats, but their behavior really reflects more about them than about you.

Next time you are confronted with other people’s rudeness, remind yourself: “It’s not about me.” Make that sentence your “Easy Button.”

How will this help? By voicing the sentence to yourself, you automatically shift perspective. Your attention is diverted away from you and your hurt feelings, so that you can be more objective, and less prone to overreacting. You remain cool-headed. Your inner brat has little chance of taking over and ruining your day by dwelling unnecessarily on the situation.

“It’s not about me” works most of the time to calm you down when feeling hurt or insulted. Occasionally, however, you might need something extra to help shift your perspective. If so, follow up with this question: “Would I expect anything else from this person?” Your answer will likely be “No, such behavior is quite characteristic of this person.”

Once you shift your perspective, decide what you’re going to do about the other person’s rude remark or behavior. That will vary, depending on the situation and the person. In any case, just the act of making a decision will reinforce your feeling in control -- even if the decision is to do nothing.

Now that you are armed with your own new Easy Button, you are well prepared to keep other people’s inner brats from triggering your own.

Copyright Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. 2005. All rights reserved

Author's Bio: 

Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. is a psychologist in Camp Hill, PA, and author of "Taming Your Inner Brat: A Guide for Transforming Self-defeating Behavior" (Wildcat Canyon Press, 2004)

Visit http://www.innerbrat.com for more information, and subscribe to her free, monthly Inner Brat Newsletter.