Peace is an Inside Job and I Don’t Have It. Yet.
Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage. Thucydides 460 B.C-395 B.C.
Much has been said about fake optimism and that stupid yellow smiley face a year into this pandemic. It is not healthy for us to deny what’s really true for us and stuffing feelings is the speedway to self-destruction. It has been a long time since my amygdala was hijacked- but this past weekend I got to experience it again, and it was dreadful.
I was taken by surprise by a guy in the neighborhood yelling at me outside my house about some real or imagined slight. As he came closer, I asked him to step back, he continued. In a calm voice, I demanded he leave. He didn’t, so I left him screaming outside. Once inside, I noticed I was shaking, my heart rate was up, I felt sick.
The real challenge for me is the element of surprise –being wholly unprepared for such incivility. I was able to stay calm in the moment and get myself away midsentence. But the strength and duration of my physical reaction afterwards shocked me. It was like a bad hangover. I called a wise friend, I meditated, and it was 2 hours before I was reset. Here is what I learned:
- Having a technique at the ready is essential, as incivility often comes as an ambush.
- My only job when faced with somebody’s worst behavior is to interrupt it and remove self and others from the person.
- Ignore their words /do not argue/challenge/ engage/ or reason. The only job is to end the conversation.
- I had not appreciated how reactive I am, still, to the toxic behavior of others. Maybe I am out of practice? While I’ve learned how to deal externally with bully behavior, I want to lower the corrosiveness to my insides. I’m making progress but my next growth edge is to cut back on the adrenaline/cortisol release.
- We can learn to grow even from the most difficult people among us. To quote Marcus Aurelius:
You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.
Wellness Pearls I’ve Come
Across on the Internet
Being Seen: A blog by Seth Godin
His is one I read every day and here is a 130 word GEM:
The Confusion about Sorry
I’m sorry that your cat died,” does not mean that I killed your cat.
But, “I’m sorry that I stepped on your foot,” does mean that I stepped on your foot.
In creating connection and trying to make amends, we often get confused by the two kinds of ‘sorry’, and don’t apologize because we believe the problem wasn’t our fault.
“I’m sorry that you had to wait two hours while your car was being serviced.” That’s a valid sentence, even if it wasn’t your fault that the schedule was overfull.
“I’m sorry that you’re stranded here and you’re going to miss the big meeting. I know it was important,” is a useful thing to say even if you didn’t cause the snow storm.
“I’m sorry” can simply mean, “I see you.”
Am I part of the Problem?
A walk thru “game” on How to Apologize– an interactive and very empathic tool to help clarify intent and impact and the many ways to make an amends.
Eileen, a wise friend recommended your blog to me, and I have been enjoying it for several years, but I have never responded to a blog until now. Your story of your reaction to your offensive neighbor gripped me. I hope you gave yourself a much deserved pat on the back for the way you handled the situation itself. And I appreciate your distress over the internal corrosion it caused and longing to be developed enough to keep that smaller. That is a hard one. I guess there is a reason equanimity is one of the four “Immeasurables.”
I just wanted to say thank you for sharing that expereince. It gave me encouragement in my own journey.
Thank you Brent- agree completely. Just when you think you got it figured out or grown, BAM! I’m glad you like the blog and are also on a journey.
You are such a rock star. Thank you for these wise words and suggestions Eileen
I wish I could carry you around in my hip pocket!
Disengage- so important and yet, so freaking hard to do. 🙇
YEs so hard- The guy has been back yelling twice since this blog, but I was able to knock down the internal storm significantly Slow but steady progress. THANK YOU.