Have you ever had that clarity between taking things the wrong way or letting things go? And you still choose the “wrong way” aka. Taking things personally, holding a grudge, getting aggressive, and simmering in anger….
In case none of this resonates let me give you a great example. My mother in law a sweet, petite, quirky, 67 year old lady with who I have a great relationship with (most of the time). Came to help us cat sit a couple weeks ago while we were traveling to Iceland (in our defense our cat is like 100 years old and needs the high maintenance treatment) she arrived a week early to be with us. My OBGYN should have warned me that hormones don’t mix well with having people stay in my house (it’s truly more death threatening then raw fish in my humble opinion)
One afternoon she started asking me about how I wanted to decorate the baby nursery. As I began to describe the colors and how I wanted to avoid everything that is extremely pink or girlish she looked at me horrified and said “Nooo, nooo. You can’t do that” it took me about a second to look at her with daggers from my eyes and say “I can do whatever I want”. You might be thinking- “wasn’t that bad” or “wish I could say something like that” the thing was not what I said but how angry I felt. That was the beginning of feeling irritated over every comment she made, the way my house smelled with her perfume, how my kitchen cabinet was disorganized, how she was using my Chef knives to cut strawberries over a napkin. I was on an edge ready to push somebody (her) off.
This is not the first time I’ve felt this edge. It’s usually the people closest to us that walk on our internal minefields. That trigger us beyond everything we could have ever imagined and when we think we are past it. When we think we have done the internal work, call it therapy, meditation, yoga… we are shown with a highlighter exactly where it is that we are stuck.
One of life mantras is Maya Angelou’s quote “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better do better” In so many ways I know better and yet I keep slipping on the same banana peel, keep getting upset at the same people for the same reason. Have you ever had this experience?
My Grandmothers Sister who I have a close relationship with once said to me “Get to know people really well and then learn” What I find the most interesting about this advice is that we don’t need to get to know the other people better. We need to get to know ourselves better. What triggers us? Why? What can we do once we are triggered? There is a Lojong slogan that says “Don’t figure others out” It stops us from trying to assess the other person, from trying to label them and point fingers and instead we get to work with ourselves.
You must be thinking “how do we work with ourselves. HOW?” at least that’s what I’ve been thinking.
Step One- Compassion the voice that says “Hey Sweetie. It’s ok. You are going to be ok. Just breathe. Feel your heart expand as you inhale and exhale. I’ve got you” It doesn’t say do better or stop feeling angry. It says “I love you. It’s ok”.
Step Two- Perspective by looking at the same thing from another angle. Usually the most helpful angle is to look at it from as far away as you can. Like pulling away in Google Maps from the house, to the street, to the neighborhood, the city and finally the country. It doesn’t really matter the angle as long as it allows you to feel a little bit better internally. A good dose of gratitude, long walks or talking to somebody that makes you feel grounded can really help shift your perspective.
Step Three- Allowing yourself to be angry. We have this idea of how we should feel and what type of people we should be and that standard just gets in the way. Maybe we can start to label how we feel and avoid judging it and stop trying to change it. Maybe we are being triggered exactly where we need to be triggered and all we need to do is give it some space.