Each new day holds a new opportunity. We can choose how we respond to the day as it unfolds. Except for those pesky habituated patterns.
I grew up in a household that allowed angry outbursts as an appropriate response to anything challenging. A misplaced item was met with an angry outburst. A chore left undone was met with a negative response. So, that’s what I thought life aught to look like. Whatever happens needs to be addressed with anger.
Well, you can imagine how well that worked for me.
One day (many years ago) I found myself getting ready to go out for the day. It can be kind of zen to curl one’s hair. Mine was long at the time, so it took quite a bit of time. As I was standing there allowing the heat of the curling iron to do its work, I found myself contemplating my reactions and how unfruitful and unpleasant they were. I pondered if there was a better way to be/live.
At that exact moment someone came in (not Phil) and exclaimed their displeasure at something happening in the world . . . that same angry outburst I was familiar with though it was about something that had nothing to do with me.
In that moment I had the choice to react as I always had, or to find a new way to react. Well, I didn’t have any other way to react in my toolbox as yet, so I just continued to do my hair while I mentally searched for a response.
Interesting thing happened. The other person stopped yelling and just walked away. Aha! Doing my own thing was a response and it gave me what I wanted – peace within myself. I didn’t have to correct the other person or address their anger. I could just allow them to be where they were and not get sucked into it.
That was a profound moment for me!
As I finished getting ready, I wondered how I could apply this to other situations. Like situations where I was being dressed down for something I had done or not done. Well, doing my own thing was not a solution when directly verbally addressed because that gave the other person ammunition to accuse me of ignoring them or being passive-aggressive.
So, what could I do! I loved that sense of inner calm and peace! I wanted more of that!
I discovered that truth is an open door to neutrality. Not beating someone up with my truth, but rather just calmly expressing where I was at. In that way, truth is neutral. Neither hurting the other person, nor diminishing me.
When hit with, “You didn’t do that right!” I could respond gently with my truth. “Hmmm. I thought that was how it was done.”
“You didn’t do that right!” It is soooooo easy to respond to anger with anger. “Well, who are you to tell me how to do that?!” Yet, because anger begets anger, when anger is applied, more anger happens. Vicious cycle emerges leading to frustration, tears, or worse.
Once I made the commitment to find my truth and speak it gently, the real work began. Once I got triggered, I could NOT THINK!! My mind went blank! They only thing I could think was the habituated negative responses!
So, I began to pack a few neutral truth responses into my conscious brain when I was in a state of calmness. Then when the negative attack happened (as was the habituated pattern with this person) I could call upon my list of neutral statements to disarm myself and reclaim my brain out of the abyss of habit.
“Well, I’m not sure how to respond to that.” (truth!)
“I don’t know what to say, here.” (truth!)
“Hmm. I’m going to think about what you are saying here.” (truth!)
“I need to go to the bathroom. I’ll be back in a minute.” (This one works great!!!)
“I don’t think I see this the same way you do.” (truth!)
No accusations. No defensive/hostile comments. No judgments on the other person. Just neutral truth.
Did that heal that relationship? No. Sadly. Yet, it brought me into a clearer state of mind to a place where I could see my truth and begin to walk in it. I could disengage from the habituated anger cycle that was so familiar.
Do I ever get angry? Yes. Yet, I can speak my truth much more easily. (Sometimes it’s still hard! Especially if the other person is angry and I feel myself get triggered.) Now, I can feel my brain shutting down and I know the importance of getting space between me and the situation.
Truth is an open door to emotional freedom. Truth is the gateway to clarity. Truth is the passageway into honor and self-respect. Truth is the portal to awareness. Truth is the access point to dignity.
May truth lead you into peace.