Tuesday, May 27, 2008
My Rules of Life---Part Six
Take Two Steps Backwards
There are many challenges in life. New information filters in every day knocking all other data sideways. Irritations pop up, small annoyances, major catastrophes, job losses, plumbing exploding, appliances expiring.
I tend to get triggered by small stuff. The big stuff can be a shrug, but the small stuff can drive me crazy and I'm a gut reactor to boot. I come up fists flying before I can get a true handle on a situation.
I had to really work on changing myself to take the two step backwards and re-evaluate whatever is going on before I fly off the handle.
In any confrontational situation I find, inevitably, that I'm the one that has to change.
Today, I had to go and finalize some business taxes with some clients. They are meticulous about their floors so instead of wearing lace-ups and heavy woolly socks like I wanted to, I wore my birks which can be removed easily outside their door. So we sit at their table and go over their taxes and they both chainsmoked. Non-stop. I asked them to please stop as I was feeling unwell with it. They didn't, "oops, forgetting" as they lit up yet again. I raced through the rest of the meeting and as I left I took my two steps back and thought, here I am respecting their floors and here they are disrespecting the very air I am breathing into my lungs. There was no anger in me, just a clean evaluation. If they are not willing to hold off on their smoking while I am there, I'm not willing to jeopardize my health in their home so either they come to me in my smoke free office or they are no longer my clients. Simple. Unemotional.
Before I would have stormed off out of there in a rage, complaining to all and sundry about their continued shoddy treatment of me but next year going back to suffer once again in their home, so that they wouldn't be upset. And so I would retain them as clients. And on.
Several years ago I took this two step backwards approach to one of my core systems of belief - my religion. I examined it from a distance and found it laughably fictional and truly eccentric. I wondered why God wanted so much money from everyone when he wasn't spending it to feed the hungry and house the poor. I wondered at his childish demands on my time and his vengeful punishments for minor misdeeds. I wondered why he hated sex and gays, jews and muslims amongst many others. I marvelled at his misogyny and his insistence on us breeding ourselves into a coma and mating for life. I questioned why he had elevated paedophiles to be pillars of his church. I was amazed I had lived close to over fifty years on the planet and hadn't risen up and seriously questioned any of this brainwashing until now. The rut of cult. I was stuck in the Catholic septic tank.
And even when I'm far too enmeshed in a particular problem and can't see my way out, I take the two steps back and say, now what would you tell a dear friend as to how to handle this situation? It's amazing what I can come up with!
And I've done this for a while now. For the big issues like the invasion of Iraq, climate change, and the war on drugs.
And for the small issues like sitting unwillingly in a smoke-filled room.