There was a time that I had a very short temper. I know, hard to believe now, and much as I hate to admit, it’s true. Now, after many years of meditation practice, I seldom react in anger, even when I’m all alone with no one to witness it. It’s just not my default anymore. Oh sure, I may get a little frustrated, or say I’m mad, it’s just not the kind of mad that makes me want to do or say something I may regret later.
You might have noticed I said seldom. I’ve learned not to think in absolutes – never, always, forever and the like. Often times speaking in absolutes means being closed to possibilities. Do I never get angry? Of course not! Expecting that of myself is just to much pressure and not realistic.
It always takes me by surprise when I react that way. So what happened today? Nothing huge really, just an accumulation of lots of frustrating little things with someone, and today’s exchange was the tipping point.
After a little ranting to my ever-patient husband, I did what I usually do when I need to quiet my mind in a hurry. I went for a walk, and then I journalled. And while admittedly I’m still a little peeved, the smoke has cleared and I’m able to look at it from a new perspective. Here’s what I discovered:
I am reminded of my humanness
So I got angry, so what. That means I’m human, with all it’s faults. This was a reminder not to get caught up in judgment. Judging of myself or others is a trap. It keeps me bound, without room for growth and closed to the possibilities.
We are each doing our best
This person is doing the best they can with the tools and knowledge they have. It is not up to me to set them straight. Each of us is responsible for our own behaviors, and doing the hard work of recognizing when there’s room for change.
Let go of expectation
After a nice quiet walk and a getting my thoughts out on paper, I realized that my anger came from my expectations. I expected a certain response from this person and they did not offer it. I am once again reminded that I only have control over how I respond.
Get over yourself
The response I had expected was one of thanks because I had done something to help this person out, and maybe there was a little hurt mixed in with my anger. Lesson: Let go of any attachment to what I might get from it and just do it because it’s the right thing to do.
Offer gratitude in plenitude
Now I didn’t help this person because I was looking for gratitude, but admittedly, it would have been nice. I am reminded to offer gratitude for those that I am grateful for. Everyday.
Another day of being human, another life lesson. May I continue to learn and be uncomfortable and stretch and be grateful.