Anger turned to peace : Creating happy work spaces
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Anger turned to peace

by Tami Anderson on 07/11/12

The other day I was at a meeting with a group of women I know. Greeting one of the ladies, she put her hand on my cheek, pushed me away and said, "Nope, I'm angry with you."

Shocked and unnerved,  I asked, "Why?"

"I'm very very upset with you. I will talk to you after the meeting", was her response.

Well, through the meeting, I wracked my brain, trying to remember the few conversations we had and figuring out what I could have done. Interesting, isn't it that it became all about me.

When I am confronted or afraid, I go to a special place in my psyche. For me, it is a lovely box. I liked it so much as one point in my life that I actually lived in it. It made the outside world very safe. My husband has a castle, one of my friends has a jail, a gal I work with has a deep dark hole. It is a place to go where the pain is held at bay.  It shuts off the feelings and places me right in the middle of being able to cope. Nowadays, through lots of hard work, I live outside my lovely blue box with the tight lid or at least keep the lid off it so I can see out there when I am unsure.

I jumped right into that box that evening. I know I did because I didn't have any feelings. I wasn't angry, indignant, upset, sad or mad. Nothing. I had nothing I could share in the discussion at the meeting because I was busy thinking and thinking and thinking some more about what awful thing I could have done.

After the meeting, she told me, "Follow me." At the door going out, she turned and said, (as accurately as I can recall) "I am going to say what I have to say and I am not going to discuss it with you nor argue with you. I do not want to hear anything you have to say." And she did. By the short time it took her to tell me what she had to say, there were other women around. Out the door we all went and as she walked away she kept talking, turning to yell at me some more as she went to her car.

Now, although I am in my box I can still feel physical reactions to circumstances. I became light headed, couldn't think, sick to my stomach with shaking knees. I know these reactions now. At one time I was quite disconnected from them too. One gal came to see if I was ok (that's what us women do - gather), the others left right away - no eye contact (we do that too!). Still in my safety area, I assured her I was fine; hurting, reeling from this but I would be ok.

 I am now beginning the third day since this event. Although it makes me think long and hard about trust and relationships, my focus is more on how we behave with one another. When I can go to the higher level of conscienceness, I can see the whole picture. But, when the pain comes to me I come crashing down to the earth in the reality of a few things. First of all, I trusted this woman when history has told me not to. Secondly, I wanted to be part of her circle for some crazy reason which started this whole thing. Thirdly, I didn't follow my instincts (that quiet, whisper I tend to ignore) at the beginning nor at the end. So, all in all, it shows me (again) that I still have lots of work to do on my inside job!

I'd like to share about the two states I just referred to. I call them, for myself and in my training, a state of Spirit vs a state of humanness.

My humanness hurts, acts, reacts and lives on this planet through the lessons it has learned. These lessons come from others, from books, from the media, from learned personal experiences, other people's lives and through any other absorption means the brain can muster. For example, in this situation - when I really dug deep, I realized I wanted to be part of this woman's inner circle and wanted her to be a part of mine. I had no conscience thinking on this line at all when I did what I did. I am not free to explain what I did as it involves yet another person. Suffice to say, I had no malice nor intended inappropriateness in what I did and still believe that today after some very serious reflection and work on this. So, what would cause this to happen? Especially without me thinking this is what I was doing? Because I always refer to this kind of action as 'very  grade 7', I am guessing I learned this around the age of 12. I learned if I include you or am included by you into this perceived circle of influence, I will be ok or better than ok. My intentions were good, positive, helpful and kind in nature. Yet, because the state of humanness took over, it turned south in a hurry. Accused of the complete opposite, I was left standing there with nowhere to turn to resolve this issue. The woman refused to discuss, hear me or allow us to find some kind of fix.

This happens in the work place all the time. Where do we go with that? How do we feel ok in our own skins, able to perform at our very best level when we are in a box? Hard to use the copy machine when hiding away! And, we all hide - that is our humanness tool. Hide, avoid, run away, deflect, procrastinate, gossip - all some of the methods for dealing with life in this state.

Here's one idea. It comes from the state of Spirit! If I have ways of dealing with my hurts, grief, embarrassment, anger, fear or shame, and I understand every one of us does, then what kind of humanness is this woman going through to cause her to behave this way toward me? My natural reaction was quite opposite of what I did. I wanted my friends to take sides. I wanted to scream and shout. I wanted to punch something. I wanted to do destructive things.  Yet, where would that put me in relation to living with myself? So, coming back to the state of Spirit, if what I did had zero negative intentions and was the truth as I knew it, where is this reaction coming from? How did this hurt her or cause her to be afraid of something that she would come out as aggressive as she did? How come she doesn't see me or my intentions the way I see it?

Seeing this situation through an alternate perspective gave me immediate peace. When the pain would come back, I could literally feel the shift in states. When it shifted, all kinds of shaming / blaming judgemental thoughts jumped into my head - towards this woman and towards me - alternating back and forth. Physically I would react too. Then I would process through some more of these powerful emotions and the state of Spirit returned - feeling peaceful, loving, compassionate, tolerant and accepting.

I may never have the opportunity to discuss this with her. We may never resolve this issue.  She may stay angry, bitter and resentful to me for the rest of our time. I have no idea.

What I do know is this:  when I 'get it' that she is reacting to whatever thoughts and feelings are going on for her, I can separate the behaviour from the person; that she has things going on that are not mine, and they are painful for her. When I take the time to look very deeply into my part of this whole event, I can see my own humanness so I can correct this in the future to avoid ending up here again. I want to trust my instincts now. I can see my hiding place is still just a jump away. I also recognized I haven't been in my lovely, decorated blue box for quite some time. That is great improvement from only a couple of years ago. I learned that not all people are safe; especially the ones I already know are not safe for me! I learned I can be kind to others and do a good job still when I process through those very difficult emotions. I am still a good person - even though someone else is angry at me.

The most valuable gift I received in this experience is knowing I can love her at a Spirit level and love myself at a human level.  

Comments (2)

1. Alberta_Dawn said on 7/11/12 - 07:15AM
I love your description of your 'blue box' - the inner sanctum we inhabit when the outside circumstances just aren't safe and we need immediate protection. As unpleasant as that numb, dumbfoundedness is, it was probably better THAT than the reactions that you could have expressed (the yelling & destruction). I am able to relate to that wracking your mind for an explanation ... that happens whenever someone else's reaction to me comes out of left field. Over and over "What did I do or say to cause THIS kind of reaction?" But you're exactly right in identifying that what other people are thinking is mostly hidden from us. I don't know what makes someone else tick, what other factors are at play in their lives, or what wound they may be carrying from their past. I am only just beginning to connect for myself, that often when I feel injured by another person, the sting I feel in the present actually triggers a much older hurt; maybe even a core wound. THAT kind of pain is much stronger and usually generates what looks like an irrational reaction, because it is so disproportionate to the current circumstance. Unfortunately all that feeling & reacting happens in a heartbeat and it takes time to decipher and then process. Kudos on self-searching to understand and not stopping at anger and blame.
2. Alberta_Dawn said on 7/11/12 - 07:21AM
I relate to that wracking your mind for an explanation ... that happens whenever someone else's reaction to me comes out of left field. "What did I do or say to cause THIS kind of reaction?" But you're exactly right in identifying that what other people are thinking is mostly hidden from us. I don't know what makes someone else tick, what other factors are at play in their lives, or what wound they may be carrying from their past. I am only just beginning to connect for myself, that often when I feel injured by another person, the sting I feel in the present actually triggers a much older hurt; maybe even a core wound. THAT kind of pain is much stronger and usually generates what looks like an irrational reaction, because it is so disproportionate to the current circumstance. Unfortunately all that feeling & reacting happens in a heartbeat and it takes time to decipher and then process. Kudos on self-searching to understand and not stopping at anger and blame.


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