Gem of PEACE for today: A few weeks ago, the contractors restoring our house messed up and didn’t put insulation back into one of our walls. Here’s how it went down and what I learned…about myself and anger.
I had a feeling they didn’t put insulation into one of the walls they were restoring. I asked them. “Of course we did,” they assured me.
But it still bugged me. Brian and I sat with it over night. We decided to ask them in the morning to open the drywall again. If there was insulation, we’d pay for the extra repairs.
In the morning, Brian asked them to cut open the drywall to see. There wasn’t any.
Brian was there when all this went down as I was at the doctor’s office (remember, I still have a brain injury!). When he told me, I was livid. I felt cheated. I felt taken advantage of. I was angry that we had been so kind to the workers (feeding them, making sure they were comfortable) and this is how they treated us.
I told Brian I was going to march into the house and talk to the manager. I walked inside and found the head guy. I said to him, “How could you?! How could you do this?! We were kind to you! We made sure you were taken care of. We trusted you!”
I wasn’t yelling – and I felt “proud” of myself for this (I’m not proud of this now!). Until…
The manager apologizes profusely. He then explained what happened. It was a mistake. Nothing intentional. All the guys on the crew apologized. One guy cut the drywall and left it there. Another guy went upstairs, saw the drywall in place and just started sealing it up without checking to make sure it was ready to go. Yes, they are responsible for slowing down and doing a good job. BUT…
THIS is what sits with me: I intentionally went in there to talk to the manager knowing I was angry, thinking I was justified and that my story was correct (“they are taking advantage of us!” etc). I didn’t seek to understand first. And really…my story was wrong.
The bottom line is this:
my anger was coming from stress (try having a brain injury and then three floors worth of your home destroyed and tons of pounding and sawing) and from fear (feeling vulnerable — I know nothing about home repairs). It was also coming from old habitual ways of thinking…past experiences making their way into my analysis of the current situation.
Anger does this — we get a story going in our head. Our thinking becomes really myopic (“they did this to pull one over on us!”). We feel vulnerable, taken advantage of, like a victim, and powerless. We get justified in our anger. And we act out.
I am learned that even though I was correct in that they did not put in insulation, it didn’t serve me (I felt awful later) or the situation to act out of anger. I am learning and learning that when we are angry, it is better to do NOTHING. Don’t talk. Don’t reply to an email. Don’t text. Goodness don’t post it on Facebook. Don’t do ANYTHING out of anger.
Instead…breathe. Long exhales.
Tend to the vulnerable feeling.
Tend to the feeling of powerlessness.
Treat yourself with the utmost kindness and tender regard.
A reaction out of anger is always from fear. And it holds an empty, short-lived, ultimately deflating sense of power (often then filled with guilt and shame). It hurts others. It hurts ourselves. It disconnects us from others and our own hearts. It feels sticky, ugly, yucky. It’s laden with regret.
A response out of groundedness, tenderness, and self-compassion comes from love. And it holds a sort of power that is spacious, full, uplifting, and EMPOWERING. A true power. It connects us to the deep power of our hearts…and this universe. No matter what the outcome of the situation, there is a sense of peace within us because we are taking action that is aligned with love — ultimately, our true nature…our home.
I may not do this every time. But I am going to make a commitment to try and do NOTHING out of anger. Instead, to pause and wait… wait with kindness for my own self and breathe. If this is humanly possible, I hope you will join me! Do NOTHING when you are angry! Wait.
Share with me how it goes for you!
* Thank you for reading these Gems of Delight and being a part of the Barefoot Barn community. Thank you for being a part of this evolution of bringing more compassion into the world by sharing these Gems with your dear ones so they can live with more delight, compassion, and connection in their everyday lives. I hope these Gems serve you. Visit the Barefoot Barn website for other ways that I may serve you with mindful coaching (especially for parents!), psychotherapy, workshops and retreats. Thank you for sharing your comments — it is always a delight to hear what gems are emerging within your own heart.