When You Are Really Pissed, Do This
Have you ever been angered or frustrated by someone else’s choices or actions because those choices seem to have a direct impact on your plans, or how you wanted things to go?
If the answer is yes, keep reading. I am sharing a story about being peeved and what I did about managing anger.
If the answer is no, and you truly have never experienced this, then please reply to this email and introduce yourself. You are likely a fully enlightened being and I want to know you!:)
So, the other week I got some disappointing news about someone’s choices that seemed to be in direct conflict with my plans.
I had recently changed the Shrink Session teacher-training curriculum to be an apprenticeship program where I could work individually with the teachers. I wanted a little more hands-on time with them in order to give support in the areas they most need.
In the middle of a training session, after spending a month or so working together, one of my wonderful girls who was almost ready to start teaching, timidly informed me that she had some news: she’d gotten her dream job and she’d be performing in a show that would take her out of the city for the next 6 months.
I could tell she was afraid to tell me.
She is a musical theater actress, and while teaching Shrink Session is an exciting new chapter for her performing is surely her heart and soul.
I am going to be really candid with you here, because I think it is important to tell the truth.
My first reaction when she told me was NOT, “Omg! I am so excited for you! This is a dream come true! You must be thrilled! Mazel Tov!”
Under a variety of different circumstances, this would absolutely be my response. But because these plans would directly affect what I had envisioned for the next 6 months, let’s just say that beautiful and loving response was not available to me in that moment.
My first INTERNAL reaction was more like, “Are you flipping kidding me? I have just spent a month training you. I am counting on you to teach, like soon!”
Again, I am being totally honest because I want you to understand the powerful opportunity we have in the moments we find out things are not going as we planned.
First, you should know that I am not a yeller. I tend to get quiet when I’m mad. Frankly this can come off as passive aggressive because I am trying so hard to push down my feelings.
I have enough experience to know that the quiet aggression doesn’t play so well. It’s so important to manage anger. Here’s what I did:
Lesson #1: I took what I like to call a MATO (a Mini Adult Time Out:) because they are so very helpful. It doesn’t require you sit in a corner. Rather, it simply requires that you breathe and not say a whole lot if you are simply going to spew anger. There is no rush to talk.
This is not to say I was a perfect angel, but I did my best to stay fairly neutral as I recalled a few mantras from the very practice I teach.
“It’s all working out. It’s all getting done. The Universe supports me, every where I go.”
As hard as it can be to shift into a more LOVING state during these times, and please know this is an ongoing practice and we are not meant to always do it perfectly, I truly believe that in every moment we have an opportunity to either give love or take it away. More on that in a second.
If I believe and encourage others to stand in the idea that the “Universe supports me everywhere I go”, then surely this is in HER best interest as well as MINE.
During these red hot times, we can let our egos get the best of us. Especially if we buy into the idea that if something doesn’t go as planned it will have a direct negative impact on our success or happiness.
ALTERNATELY, we can actually be the leader we long to be lead by, the individual who does NOT buy into fear, the human being who truly DOES trust it is all working out and it is all getting done.
It’s easy to say “Life supports us” when things are going really well, but how about practicing this when the you-know-what hits the fan?
Lesson #2: After taking a second, I told the truth:
“Look, this is all hard to hear. I am not going to pretend that in this moment, I am not a little disappointed. If you are not getting warm fuzzy feelings from me right this second, it’s just because I am having a bunch of feelings about this. I want to support you and at the same time my ego is doing a little dance of fear. I know ultimately, this is going to work out for the best, for both of us. And it will be wonderful.”
Lesson #3: Then I stopped talking and I started listening.
I let her talk about her own internal conflicts about this job. It means she is leaving NY, yet again. She was looking forward to teaching. She struggles with the life of a performer and the associated instabilities.
Listening, instead of making it all about oneself, is KEY in these moments. It’s not always easy, but if we can take the attention off ourselves, even for just a moment, it eases a lot of tension.
We talked for a while longer and by listening to her, I began to soften. I let her know that the door will be open for her when she returns. And I meant it. We hugged it out.
And if I am still being honest with you, which I promised I would be, a few hours later, I was still feeling a little disappointed.
But LESSON #4 is about SHIFTING FOCUS. My disappointment wasn’t so much about “How could she do this?” it was more about, “Shoot, what’s next? Who can we get to fill in?”
The person who is making a choice is not DOING something to you. They are not TAKING anything away from you.
Despite it feeling that way, you can begin to shift your focus to a solution. Even if you don’t know what it is yet.
Shifting focus to a solution rather than staying tuned into the problem is a MUCH more powerful position to stand. You are no longer looking BACK at something you can’t change, but you are already looking FORWARD and allowing your subconscious to generate new ideas of how things could possibly play out.
Here is the biggest take away I want you to get.
LESSON #5: In every moment we are either giving love or we are taking it away. We are either living in faith or living in fear. It really can’t be both at the same time.
I had a spiritual teacher once tell me there is never a good reason to take love away from any situation. Think about that.
This doesn’t mean you don’t get upset or you that you let people walk all over you. But taking love away from yourself or others in the face of anger by being spiteful, mean, hateful or passive aggressive is never a good answer.
The next time you find yourself if these tricky moments, about to explode or implode with with anger, I invite you to follow these steps:
Take a beat to collect yourself. Try to understand how you are really feeling before you lash out.
Tell the truth about how you feel, recognizing that it is a FEELING in this moment, not a FACT. It will change.
Take the attention off of yourself to really listen to the other person.
Ask yourself, am I giving love, either to myself or this person, or am I taking it away?
If this post inspires you, I would love to hear how you deal with conflict over on the blog. I think it’s so valuable to share ideas on this topic and learn better ways to communicate our feelings without dumping a bunch of icky stuff on someone else. Come on over. I’ll be reading and commenting. I’d also love to hear how do YOU manage your anger?
With patience and love,