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Recently, someone I work with talked shit about me to others we work with. This wasn’t just a passing comment or critique. It was part of a systematic smackdown. He was trying to get our team fired and our program dismantled.
What the fuck, asshole!
I just had lunch with you! Over the next hour or so I sat and fumed and planned my counter-attack.
But, as the bristles on my back started to lay back down, I heard a small voice inside me say, “Hey, you’ve been here before. You’ve dealt with people like this. You know what to do.”
I took a few deep breaths and realized exactly what I needed to do.
And it had nothing to do with revenge or spitting fire and hate.
Instead, I knew I needed to reach out with my heart and love the guy. “What! The fuck?,” you might be saying. Well, let me backup a few minutes before this realization.
When the initial shock and anger settled, I checked in with myself.
I felt tense, nervous, angry, and defensive like an animal backed into a corner. A shitty way to feel and definitely not how I wanted to be. The thought of rebuttal and revenge only heightened those feelings. If I were to pursue my anger towards this guy I knew it was only going to make me feel more tense, more angry, more shitty.
Why would I want that?
“I’ll tell you why!” screamed my ego.” This jackass is trying to get you canned and you’re going to send positive vibes to him! Jesus! Even if you weren’t worried about losing your gig, why would you want a jerk like that to get away with what he’s doing?”
Because it’s his problem, not mine.
Ever since reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, I’ve worked on trying to not take things personally, one of the four (and the hardest for me) agreements we make with ourselves in order to live a better life. This book, along with many others, helped me see people as the individuals they are, with the experiences and references they have, which have absolutely nothing to do with me.
I knew in my heart this guy was having his own battle. Through his actions, I knew he likely struggled with his own feelings of self-worth. He was scared and disempowered and fighting for his own career…his own life. He needed to feel validated and wanted. And ultimately, he needed to be loved.
Isn’t that what we’re all seeking?
How would me throwing shade and anger and vitriol at him help in any way? I already know it wasn’t going to help me because of how it made me feel. “What about sweet, sweet revenge? That feels good, right?” whimpered my ego.
Does seeing someone else hurt really feel good? You may think it feels good
It may seem damn near impossible to love someone, or at least not want to inflict pain on someone, who has wronged you. It may seem passive and weak.
But, the absolute opposite is true.
To show someone compassion takes a tremendous amount of strength and resolve. Your inner fortitude, to not lash out wildly like a cornered creature, must be cultivated. Compassion is an active process that involves expressing empathy, understanding, love, and kindness.
“OK, I get compassion, but why do I still feel like strangling this person?” you may be asking.
Compassion can only be truly expressed when you’ve given these things to yourself. Are you practicing self-compassion?
Ask yourself the following questions and think about how you’re treating yourself.
- Do I spend most of my time talking shit about myself -OR- singing my praises?
- Am I nurturing the hurt parts of me without judgment -OR- ignoring and neglecting them?
- Am I celebrating who I am and being kind to myself -OR- beating myself up any chance I get?
The other thing I realized, when this
jerk hurt soul said what he said about me, was part of it was true. I didn’t agree with his approach but I did agree with some part of what he said. I took the energy I would have spent on taking him down and/or being mad and acting victimized and used it to study, learn and grow.
What if you could do this every time you were challenged by a person or situation?
What if you could magically transform your anger, pain and frustration into something useful for yourself? Wouldn’t you want to?
If you want to and you’re willing to accept you have control over your state of being, read on. If you want to stay mad and depressed and frustrated and stuck in that loop, I get it. It can be comfortable staying in a familiar place. It can be scary to make changes even when you know they may be exactly what you need.
For a moment, think about what it could be like. Think about a happier, healthier, calmer, lighter state of being. Think how great that feels. Close your eyes and breathe that in.
Now if you’re ready to move on, here are 5 steps to help you deal with your next WTF moment:
1. Stop. Breathe deeply and count to 10 (literally – in your head is fine). Have you ever noticed how razor sharp your reaction is to something that bugs the shit out of you? It’s almost like you’re poised and ready to pounce and when that situation arises or that person appears, you’re ALL over it! Don’t react right away. Stop, breathe, and get ready for step 2.
2. Scan. Mentally scan your body. Where are you holding tension? Can you picture the anger and where it sits in your body? What other emotions are you feeling? Beyond the anger or immediate reaction you’re having, what other feelings are coming up for you as you breathe and scan?
4. See. When you can see where the other person might be coming from or why you’re in the situation you’re in, you see beyond the immediate moment. Seeing means you’re moving beyond raw feeling and bringing the energy up to your more sophisticated processing areas to find what’s hiding behind your reaction and what lessons you can learn.
5. Send. By this stage, you should feel more calm, less reactive, more ready to move on, and less wanting to lash out like an angry animal. If not, repeat steps 1-4 until you do. When you’re ready, send some love and understanding to anyone else involved. Send it out into the world. Send it to yourself and reframe your WTF moments into What’s The Fuss opportunities.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment, story, or question below.