It's frustrating to feel yourself losing your temper, especially if things seem to be building up as the day goes on. The problem is that we have a difficult time differentiating between  our stuff and other people's stuff. Who, exactly, has the attitude problem?

A classic, now viral quote from the late fiction master Elmore Leonard's character Raylan Givens will help you get centered really, really quickly:

If you run into an a*****e in the morning, you ran into an a*****e. If you run into a*****es all day, then you're the a*****e.

Precise. Beautiful. Powerful.

What it means

The quote popularized in the Elmore Leonard-inspired show Justified means that we often create the world based on the patterns we believe. There is actually some psychology behind this. The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is when something comes to our attention and then we seem to see it everywhere. For instance, if you find out you are going to become a parent, then suddenly it seems like children are all around you or, if you just bought a new car, then you start noticing the car a lot more in your neighborhood.

Or, if you believe you are being treated poorly by a jerk, then it may feel like everyone you encounter is being a jerk. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy as, consciously or not, you may be acting defensively in anticipation of being treated poorly - creating the very dynamic you fear.

Why this saying works

It makes you take ownership of your own emotions. I get it: Some days I feel like my colleague on the phone, the dry cleaner and the grocery store cashier had a secret meeting and decided to all make my life as hard as possible. But after the third person is acting unreasonable to you in one day, you have to look at the only common denominator: you.

The great part? That means you can stop running into a*****es any time you want.

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Published on: Feb 13, 2018
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