“They’re gonna do what?!” It was official – my mind was blown. I could not believe what I was hearing. My friend was sharing the behavior of people we know. I was appalled and indignant. How dare they behave this way? Didn’t they know that was wrong? What gave them the right to manipulate the situation in their favor? I was angry. My anger came from a deep place, triggered by the injustice of it all. If a nurse could have magically appeared and strapped one of those blood pressure machines on me, I’m sure it would have registered 400/200. I got home that evening in a flustered state and immediately asked my husband to pour me a glass of wine. It didn’t really do any good as I continued to feed my outrage by recounting to my husband every detail of the situation. I wasn’t hungry at dinner and continued to talk through my disbelief. When bed time came, I was calmer but found myself in a foul mood.
When Saturday morning’s coffee was soured by my acrid mood I finally said, “Alright, I just have to get over myself.” Sigh – easier said than done. When things are bothering me they just play in my head in an endless loop, kind of like that “gotta go to Mo’s” jingle. Well, every time my indignity surged, I would take deep breaths and remind myself that I cannot control or change the situation. I focused instead on what I could control and that was how I reacted to it. I decided to trust that the people who are in the know and have influence will do the right thing. I couldn’t change the outcome and confronting the people about what they intended to do would be interpreted as self-serving. The best I could do was to pray and let go.
Letting go, however, required that I confront and stare down my ego. By the way, this wasn’t the first time I sparred with my ego. http://yayaspeaks.com/2011/11/20/getting-to-know-you-ego/. When we react so strongly to something, the majority of times it is because our ego is involved. I had to be honest and accept that my ego was bruised. Ego said that my contributions to the situation were loftier and more valuable and yet they were overlooked and had gotten me nothing. Ego said that my beliefs and standards were holier and as such gave me the right to judge others. Ego fought back each time I questioned it: what right do I have to judge what others do? How dare I behave this way? How could I believe that my way of doing things is the just way? Worst of all, how could I latch on to this judgment without all of the facts?
There was a lot of emotional processing that weekend. By Monday, I was 90 percent over myself. It took another two days before I could face the situation with total peace. That was about 40 hours of internal turmoil. Unfortunately I will not get back those 40 hours of physical disturbance, but I am fortunate to say it was a short time compared to what some people are willing to hold on to for years.
I think that our passion and motivations can result in anger. And, anger can be a great emotion to channel into action in order to make change and improve our life and others’. But, when the situation is out of our control, we have to let go and get over ourselves, especially when our anger is a result of a bruised ego. When we have a strong reaction to something, we need to put our ego on the hot seat and try to see what is behind the anger with objectivity. It’s an tough exercise on humility but worth the effort. Nothing is worth is our health and inner peace and so I end this week’s blog with the serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Adopted from Reinhold Niebuhr’s original prayer
Much Love and Peace,