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.

Example:
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.

16 comments:

  1. Two steps backwards is a great philosophy and one I often use. Now at 61 I feel I have earned the right to do things to suit me and my life without worrying about what others think.

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  2. Wisdom in every word, as usual WWW.

    I sometimes suspect that I'm evolving in the other direction, though. I used to be more timid than now. Maybe it's the internet which brings on bravado! My husband often advises me to "let it sit for a day" after I've drafted a somewhat assertive letter or blog post. In some ways I see the wisdom in it, but in another it allows frustration to simmer. That's never a good thing when it could be released with a good rant.

    I do realise that your way (and his) is best. ;-)

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  3. Gm:
    My but you've been busy on my blog. Thank you!
    That's one of the true bonuses of aging, isn't it, the not give a damn what you think philosophy!
    XO
    WWW

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  4. T:
    Maybe you have to go through your confrontational phase before you learn how to step back and evaluate!
    Life is all about growth, though I usually follow a 24 hour rule when I want to jump in with both feet. I sleep on it and it all looks quite different in the morning!
    XO
    WWW

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  5. Once more - wise words! I shall start applying them today (I had come storming into the office ready to confront a colleague about an email she had sent about me which I had happened to read. I shall take a while to calm down and take a few steps back before talking to her about it!) :-)

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  6. Ah, I'm habitually calm anyway, I'm the one who tells Jenny to cool it and reflect when she's raging about someone who's just got up her nose! But then again I can sometimes be too calm and not let out my feelings when it would be good to do so.

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  7. WWW - I'm just double-checking that my updated e-mail arrived, with a few additional bits of info?
    I'm a bit wary of my e-mail provider, it has been known to go AWOL on occasion.

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  8. Jo:
    It always help to step back a bit and even apply the 24 hour rule if you can. Calm minds prevail so much better than the hot spew of passion!
    -------------------------------
    Nick:
    There has to be a line between total detachment and emotional mayhem, if only we could all find it!!
    ------------------------------
    XO
    WWW

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  9. T:
    Plse try again, I haven't received it and thanks!
    XO
    WWW

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  10. Ah, the wonder of maturity. My mother used to say of my schooldays that I took one step forward, then two steps back, but I think she was talking of a different matter. ;>)

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  11. WWW - it definitely worked - instead of going in accusatory (which is how I felt when I read the email), I went in calmly, and it all turned out to be a misunderstanding :-D

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  12. My Catholic experience is like yours and I thought the same about God. But I'm not sure. Religion is fictional, I guess - but so are the greatest works of literature - and I can't live without Jane Austen. Those who didn't think God was fictional drove planes into skyscrapers in New York and blew up trains in London and Madrid. Everywhere people seem to want to put something in the space that God has abandonned - the environment and climate change are his latest replacement. People still have religious responses. They want to feel virtuous and saved. And God has let them down - he isn't there anymore.

    I'm constantly aware, as I think you are, of his absence.

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  13. OF:
    Absolutely, OF. I couldn't agree more.
    XO
    WWW

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  14. Wise as always you are, WWW, and I always learn something from your lessons of wisdom. It's good to know that we can learn new things at any age and that there is no age limit at which we were already supposed to know everything already. I find that now, at the age of 53, I am learning more and more quickly than I did in my 20's and 30's. Also thanks to you!

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