I’m not one to hoard things. I’m pretty tidy. I abhor chaos, and have been known to cut great swaths through our house armed with a garbage bag and an unapologetic soul. I can hold on to a grievance, however, until the event is nothing but hazy recollection. The anger, however, remains as fresh as the day it was born. I cannot let it go. One of my friends referred to it as “stamp collecting.” It is an apt description. Not a good hobby.
I wrote a few weeks ago about banning “should,” and one of my rules was that we do not “should” unto others. Resentment, however, is an implied should. I’m angry because people should behave differently than they do. Just because I don’t say it, doesn’t mean I don’t hold on to it as my personal truth.
But is it? Can we really be sure of what other people “should” do?
I participated in a discussion group moderated by life coach extraordinaire, Anne Wotring. If you haven’t checked out her blog, Dare to Blog Fresh Thoughts, you should. Her emails and web lessons always open new possibilities for me. We used the Byron Katie method of inquiry. I’m no expert, so I won’t go through the process in detail, but it is a means for taking situations that create stress and conflict, uncovering the stories that define our perceptions and turning them inside out. It is powerful lesson in exploring the potential of opposites.
If I allow myself to explore the possibility of opposites, I have to entertain the idea that what I view as being overly critical might be discerning and committed–traits I view as positive. Micromanagement may be risk aversion. People who are controlling may want things done well, and people who are inactive perhaps have more important things to do. If we assume that others operate from a rational viewpoint, they have reasons for behaving as they do. Accepting those reasons opens up a range of solutions, common ground to work from.
I also have to accept that perhaps I am the opposite as well. Perhaps I take my work too personally, or I have hidden motivations, and I’m willing to admit I’m pretty controlling myself.
I can accept all of these stories and still conclude that some people are asshats. Multiple truths can exist at once, and the path forward usually lies somewhere in the intersection. At a minimum I can put a stamp on the anger and send it away. That would be enough.
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph by Actual Size © 2009 Creative Commons