This is an excerpt from the book I am writing called, “Living Your Purposeful Life”
You have to watch the words that you use, and more than just the words that you use, what is their underlying meaning to you. What meaning do you associated with your words. Let me give you an example. I was working with a coach and she said, “it looks like you are not owning your anger in your relationship, because you want to be nice.” As I felt into that statement, I did feel that it was true to me and we talked about how I could go about owning my anger. At the end of our session, I felt pretty good about what we had talked about, but then, the next couple of days, I just felt awful. The feeling was so hard to describe, because my day would start like most days. I meditated and really felt connected and ready for the day, but as the day went on, every little thing seemed to bother me and each thing just added to my “edginess” and even though I did a reset each morning, the first thing the next day, I was back where I was the day before.
It seemed to peak on Wednesday evening when my drive home took almost 2 hours because of the rain. I just felt terrible, like I was going to explode and I did not seem to be able to find a release for this build up in me. When I woke up on Thursday, I felt very low, like you want to crawl back into bed and hide low. The tension from the previous evening was gone, but I just felt very low. I wrote my coach what I thought was a very incoherent message on what I was feeling and went out to start my day.
I ended up working directly with some customers on Thursday, and the first one was very upset with the work we were doing for them. I went into that meeting not knowing what to expect and initially, I just sat back holding the space for the meeting and let the engineers in the room voice their thoughts on what was going on. At times, I was worried if we were ever going to get anywhere in the meeting, but as people cleared what they had to say, a plan emerged and that is when I stepped up to clarify what they were saying and got everybody to buy into the direction we were going.
In the second meeting, the customer was upset as well, but I knew this customer very well and knew that I could turn them around, but I was unsure about how I would go about it. There was part of me that just wanted to jump up at the white board and show them why we were doing what we were doing and “force” them into the direction we were taking. I knew that was wrong, so I looked for another solution and what came up was to let them talk about the situation and then I could weave in my concerns and that worked perfectly as what I had told my team to do was just not clearly communicated to them. As I explained to them why we were doing what we were doing and the risks of doing what they wanted, they understood, and then we were able to come up with a third direction that would meet both needs; get them what they wanted and reduce the risk we were expressing.
Finally! A good day! I happened to talk to a friend of mine that evening and told him about what I was going through and he asked me to describe anger to him and what I came up with is that anger is boxed up in the corner of my room, something that I am afraid to open, because of the damage that it might do, like the Hulk. He looked at me and said, “I do not see anger in you.” and he began to describe what he saw in me with different words, like; frustration, annoyance, irritation, displeasure. All of which feel much softer to me, and are things that I am not owning in my life, and words that I could own without feeling bad about owning them. Like my coach, he did say, own these feelings, express them when they happen, and move on.
So, if you feel you are struggling with something, take a moment and look at the words you are using to describe what you are feeling. Are your words limiting you from finding a solution? Are the words you are using too strong for what is really happening? For me, I thought that everything that was hitting me early in the week was related to the “anger” I was not owning, where if I had described it as “frustration” I think I would have been more willing to look at what was I getting frustrated over.