Thursday, 7 October 2010

Dealing with the unexpected

One of my beliefs is that we are in this world to learn some lessons. Sometimes we get something first time and other stuff can be much harder, take much longer and trip us up many times before we get it. I would love to say that this post is going to share tips on how to achieve this but I would be wrong; it is an open exploration of where I am and will leave you with a question or two to consider.

What I am dealing with at the moment is anger. I remember when I was much younger the fragments of a conversation with my father, someone whom I consider to be very wise. In it he suggested that I carried a lot of anger. At the time I dismissed that view probably thinking something like what does he know. Of late I have come to realise that he may have been onto something.

Link that to a recent insight I have had about the relationship between letting go, compassion and forgiveness and it feels as if I am drawing together a picture. Let me elaborate. Think about a situation where someone has behaved in a way that does not fit with your values. The example that comes to mind for me is the response I got from an individual when I asked them to contribute towards the cost of the drinks at dinner. They felt it was unreasonable because they had drunk less than some others and the waiters had been over zealous with our last round of drinks and cleared them away whilst we were dancing and before they were finished. They expressed this in quite forthright terms. On reflection, I think their response upset me for two reasons: firstly it was not a reaction I had expected; and secondly it felt as if they were being tight.

For me writing this post is a way of letting go of the negative energy that is tied up in that transaction because it does not serve me or the relationship that I have with said individual. I am not yet able to feel compassion for them but that is probably because I find it very difficult to see the situation from their perspective. I do need to find a way to put myself into their shoes and so forgive and move on because they play quite a large role in my life at the moment and I do not think the time for us to step out of each other's lives has come yet. What is an easier step for me is to feel gratitude towards them for giving me this opportunity to put this way of living into practice and for giving me a topic for my blog.

So what do you do when someone who matters to you does something that goes against your values? How do you react? Do you talk it through with them, do you talk to others? What do you do with the negative emotions it raises? Do you just let it simmer away until there is an eruption? I would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Hello Kate,

    I read your blog with some interest and have the following observations:

    Firstly I have a question. Are you talking about values or expectations?

    Anger is usually a reflection of something that we have not yet recognised or been willing to recognise as true about ourselves. Your Dad was onto something and at that time you weren't, by your own admission, ready to deal with it and it would appear you have not dealt with it in subsequent years. NEVER let it simmer away, but don't just dump it on the first available and unsuspecting person.

    As you say, we're here to learn lessons. Firstly there is the lesson around anger, secondly about accepting people for who they are and thirdly about perceptions and perspectives.

    The person concerned is not you and you are not them. All of us have our own perspectives and even when we have strong links with people, we will never completely know another person and should therefore be prepared to be surprised; better yet, be prepared to accept we are all different.

    Question your own recollection of what happened. When we are emotionally reactive about something it can be very easy for us not to remember/recall things the way they actually were, because we are stuck in our own self-serving place.

    Ego is at the root of anger, just as love is at the root of forgiveness.

    Regarding feeling they were being tight. Other people's circumstances, particularly financial ones, are not likely to be know to you and I would suggest you need to take a long hard look at your attitude towards people less fortunate than yourself as well as appreciating why someone may choose to be more careful with their money, even if they do have a lot.

    Trigger: From what you have written and it's tone, this feels like this minor event has merely served as the detonator to explode the anger bomb you have been carrying around – I am guessing, for quite some time. If this person is, as you say, someone of importance in your life, perhaps them unwittingly being the trigger was a 'safe' way of exploding the bomb in a contained manner; at least until you blogged about it, as if they are that close, they will undoubtedly read it. A face to face conversation may be a good way forward, (people rely to much on technology these days).

    It's a good thing that you want to let go of negative energy, but it may be worth following it to it's source, so you can ensure it goes for good.

    Lastly; what you can do when someone who matters to you does something against your values is, make a choice. You can choose to reflect on what has happened and not react immediately. You can choose to see it as all them (but then, as any coach knows there are two people in any relationship).You can remember that there's a lesson in it for you and learn the lesson so you don't get it again, bigger and louder. You can choose to accept that only dictators and autocrats enforce an 'I'm right, do it my way' policy and that to be an equal contributor to a democratic society, you have to accept and work with people as and for who they are. You can learn the art of diplomacy and in so doing, the joy of finding accord. You can choose to end the relationship.

    I hope you find these observations useful and constructive, as was the intent and that you are both able to move forward in harmony.


  2. G thank you for your thoughts, there is so much useful content here to reflect on. Isn't it interesting to consider what one's pattern is under pressure? Quite often when one feels threatened, one's response is to show aggression and be defensive.