The phone call ended in anger, pain, and offense. As soon as the call was over, all of those emotions only fed on each other and grew. Cue the familiar loop of being offended/disrespected and watch the anger grow… (I’m not the only one this happens to, right?)
Then it stopped. Or, more accurately, I stopped it. And then I felt something unfamiliar with this cycle: pride. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but let me explain. Or, as the kids say, “spill the tea”.
If you were to ask the people who know me best to describe me, some of the words they would definitely NOT use are reflective, reserved, slow-to-speak. On my good days, I’m bold, direct, and outspoken. You see, my life during those really formative teenage years was a circus. My parents dragged my sister and me through a bitter divorce, and then there were step siblings and all the friends...I was an athlete in multiple sports, and my step-sister had serious chronic health issues.
There was always a sense of hustle and bustle during that time. (And there were times when chaos reigned more often than not…) It was common for us that communication was to speak first and think about it later. It’s impossible to live in chaos and not have a chaotic mind, which is obviously not good. As I got older and wiser, I realized that I needed to work hard to change that (really hard) and I had to work to bring peace of mind into my life. My work on self awareness and inner peace has led me to recognize that almost everyone struggles with creating peace in their minds and their lives and their homes. I’d like to share the top 3 methods that work for me.
I spent the last several years being a student of myself and learning what tiggers me and why. I poured over countless books, listened to a ton of podcasts, and learned how to quiet my mind and meditate. Here are the top three takeaways I learned that have helped me increase my self-awareness and inner peace.
THE BRAIN DUMP. This one’s easy - grab a pen and paper and write down everything you’re feeling and why. This sounds too simple to be effective; I know. But it works! The Brain Dump accomplishes a few things: it helps you get your feelings out, it labels them, and gives you visible information that you can work through. It’s important to really “dump” your brain; this is not the time for editing or polishing or even organizing. You’re not trying to convince or persuade anyone; you’re just letting it out so that you can see what you’re working with. Remember that it’s ok to simply feel emotions before you start dealing with emotions. (Feel, then deal?) Once you’ve gotten everything out, then you can move on to Step 2…
THE EXAMINATION. Now it’s time to examine why you’re experiencing these emotions. Here’s the tough part: you have to be honest with yourself about why you’re feeling these emotions… Yes, it's okay to point the finger and blame 100% of responsibility on the offender initially, but you also have to do the hard part, which is reflection. This is key. I can't stress this enough. Ask yourself if you're experiencing each emotion out of ego.
“Ego” is something everyone has heard, but most people struggle to define it. The ego is the subconscious part of the brain that is a construct of our identity. If you were to ask yourself who you are, most likely your answers define your ego. It’s how you see yourself. Beliefs, habits, traits...all part of the ego, or the “I”.
We most often feel our ego when we’ve been hurt or offended. Those emotions shake our understanding of who we are. The ego is how we perceive our identity and it helps us cope with confusion and disconnection. But this ego can also cloud our perception of reality. If you get dumped, it’s only natural to wonder what you could have done differently or better. If you’re treated rudely by customer service, it’s everyone’s gut reaction to feel offended and disrespected. That’s a direct blow to your ego.
Your ego is very often the voice in your head, and it’s really important to remember that you are not the voice in your head. You are the one listening to that voice. When the ego takes a hit, it can respond in a few different ways. There’s usually a super-strong emotional response. There may be an impulse to mock, insult, or threaten as a means of retaliating against our “offender”. Our ego is constantly comparing ourselves to others and harshly judging other people. The ego is the force within us that tries to raise us up by pushing others down.
When I dump my brain and look at what I’ve written and try to examine it (after I’ve calmed down), the reality of the situation is much more clear.
Not too long ago, I was on the phone with someone I felt close to and the conversation took a fast turn south. I felt disrespected, unappreciated, and taken advantage of. This opened up the doors to anger and hurt. Next came The Blame Game. (Sound familiar to anyone…?)
I remained calm and respectful on the call, but as soon as I hung up the phone I dumped my emotional bucket with my husband and on paper so I could get a clear picture. My old self would have stewed for days, maybe weeks. But this was a real-world test of all the things I’ve been working on, and I was determined to pass this test...the right way!
The person on the other end of the phone didn’t hate me or wish me any harm. That person didn’t make me a victim. I realized that we just had different goals and a different understanding of our relationship. After that phone call, my ego was hurt and angered. That was the first wave. But when those emotions receded, I could see clearly that we were just not trying to solve the same problem. And that’s ok. (And certainly not worth trading my peace of mind and joy…)
Now, obviously, there are some situations that require more than pen and paper. Actual life or death scenarios might require you to call 911 or remove yourself from danger.
THE DECISION. The final step to regaining control over your inner peace and joy is evaluating all of your emotions and your self-analysis of why you’re experiencing those emotions and then decide what to do. Some situations will warrant an apology, a conversation with the offender, or you’ll decide it’s best to distance yourself or altogether eliminate that relationship from your life.
Whatever decision you make, you’ll know you’ve made the best decision for yourself because you used these tried and true three steps to make sure you are responding in love for yourself and everyone else involved.
I hope these steps will help you the next time you feel offended, angered, or just plain and simple done wrong to not allow the situation to rob you of your inner peace and joy. You are in control of you.