Life does not always go our way. People can be thoughtless or cruel. Things happen to which we over-react, often because they trigger old feelings from way back in the past, when we were helpless to deal with them. Sometimes we respond far more strongly than is warranted by the present situation. Neither we nor those around us may realize that the strength of our reaction is based not on what is happening now, but on something that occurred far in the past. As we grow within ourselves we learn to be less affected by such situations. Here are some of the stages we may go through as we grow.
1. You respond furiously to anything that upsets you. You are convinced you are right and that your response, however strong and intense, is appropriate. The situation continues to replay in your head, and to upset you again and again, long after it is over.
2. You become aware that you are feeling negative way beyond what is appropriate to the current situation, but you can’t stop yourself from expressing your fury. When the situation is past you are unable to stop yourself from recycling it in your mind.
3. You come to the same realization but now you manage to pull back from acting out or yelling. However, it continues to bother you long afterwards.
4. You recognize what past situation the anger was really coming from. and why the present situation triggered it, but still have difficulty in not reacting inwardly.
5. You become able to laugh at yourself as you look at the way your gut is churning, recognizing that it is really about something that actually happened long, long ago.
6. Your gut no longer churns and you congratulate yourself on staying calm. However, the person stays in your head and you (calmly) continue to rehash what you really should have said and imagine yourself “winning” or being proven right.
7. The person or situation remains in your head, but now you are able to consider your opponent’s point of view. You may be able to allow the person in your head, the one from the past, to present their viewpoint without inventing ways to slam-dunk them.
8. When the situation is over, it is over. You are able to evict the person from your head as soon as the situation has ended.
9. You get that whatever it was may have been a lesson that you needed to learn, and you resolve to act upon that learning. You no longer need to attach blame to the situation.
10. You get immediately that that the situation is not important and will not change your life. You don’t allow it to distract your behavior or your thinking. You observe it, respond appropriately without interference from your gut, and move on. You are at peace.