I wrote an email, somewhat scathing in tone, a few days ago. Entirely justified at the time, I thought. I felt I was being unduly taken advantage of, that the prospective recipient of the email was intentionally obstructive and perhaps malicious, at best unthinking and uncaring. Well, I had to defend myself, don’t I? I am entitled, don’t I? And anyone who knew the circumstances would see this and I would be justified in my action.
But no one saw this email. I did not send it.
My tapping away at the keyboard was cathartic, but catharsis could only go so far in making the situation “right”.
Thankfully, one of my habits is to never send an email drafted during an emotional flux.
Taking a large step back from the finished (but then unsent) email, these were what I realised:
- Obviously, I was emotional. Of its own, perfectly acceptable and normal. But what happened when the emotions took over …
- I turned inward and my mind took over. My thoughts revealed me at a low ebb – “I was being unduly taken advantage of”? Really? Have I in that one thought buy into a belief that I was a victim? That I had no say in this? Have I in that one thought about to give way my power?
- Then, the construction of the “baddie” who was “intentionally obstructive”, “malicious”, “unthinking and uncaring”? This is judgment with a capital ‘J’. I’ll grant that my thoughts, being the rational person that I am, could be correct. Or they might not. But in the moments when I was drafting that email, my mind was closed to any other possibility. It was closed such that I (unconsciously) chose not to see an alternate perspective.
- And really, what did it matter, if she was or was not? I was there to solve a “problem” not to make judgments about another’s motivations. Why would my actions be guided by anything other than respect for another human being, integrity and compassion?
- Moving forward in a positive manner requires me to maintain a constructive relationship, moving forward requires me to let go of any and all of the history that could bind me, moving forward requires me to be able to look at myself in the mirror and not cringe or feel compelled to be defensive.
- And that little voice in my head (?) or my heart said, “you are better than this.”
We have been there, this “feeling small” and “feeling helpless” place.
We have imagined the architects of our misery, rubbing their hands in glee with a malicious grin and gloating.
Well, in those moments we have also handed over responsibility for our self to another and blaming them for not looking after or caring or loving us.
So, this story ended with a phone call, expressing my concerns and being open to a response. The response – the words at least – was as I had expected but there was something else. The response was not “intentionally obstructive”, not “malicious”, not “uncaring”, perhaps a little “unthinking”. Okay, I can live with this, for now. And I (or my ego) would like to say that I had modeled an attitude and a behaviour which hopefully encourage reciprocity. Only time will tell.
What matters most to me is that, it felt right, it felt good, as the email if sent would not.
The lessons, which I keep close to me?
- Be open to different perspectives and possibilities. There is a world beyond our experiences.
- Proceed with the empowered self. Our words and actions will reflect this.
- Let go. We can’t control the future.
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