Last week I received an email from a colleague. It was pedantic and rude, written by someone so arrogant he didn’t even realize how offensive he was being. I have a strong feeling it’s not an email he would have sent to a male colleague, but I could be wrong on that; it’s possible he talks down to everyone regardless of gender.
Thankfully, I’ve been at this rodeo long enough to know it’s never smart to write back when you’re in a reactive state, and believe me, the email I was writing in my head was fiery. I went about my day teaching and picking up my kids from school, going to the dog park with our energetic, mouthy puppy, but every so often, in he crept, Mr. Let Me Enlighten You and every time, I got pissed again and started firing back in my head. I let him have it eight ways from Sunday. Then I’d catch myself, shake my head and laugh at the balls of this guy, and come back to laughing in earnest with my son and daughter, taking in the gorgeous day, feeling the sun on my shoulders.
It’s always our choice whether we receive the gifts people offer or not. Sometimes someone is sending you the gift of outrageous rudeness, and why would you want to sign for that?! That’s a return-to-sender in my book. I never did write back, nor will I, because some things simply don’t deserve the time and energy required to respond. His arrogance is probably a shield against some deep insecurity, but that’s his work to figure out, not mine. I have nothing to prove to anyone, but I went through half a dozen drafts in my head and I let him steal way too much of my day. My meditation teacher S.N. Goenka calls this “boiling yourself.” The event is over, but you re-live it in your head and get yourself as worked up as if it were happening in the now.
It’s really hard to hold your center when you feel insulted, attacked, misunderstood, dismissed or otherwise pained by the comments or behavior of someone else and that’s especially true if it’s a person you love. (Thankfully not the case in my scenario from last week, ha). When loved ones are in pain and their pain spills out all over our lives, it’s incredibly challenging to love them without being held hostage by their suffering. Life brings everything and not all of it is easy. In fact, some of it will break your heart boldly and without warning on a rainy Sunday afternoon, or a gorgeous Tuesday morning. Life is under no obligation to give us what we want. Some people will face loss and pain that is incomprehensible; it’s not a level playing field. Not everyone handles the everything that life brings in a way that makes sense from outside the experience.
Some pain is so knifing, people run from it. Try to numb it out, push it down, avoid it at all costs. You cannot make a person feel ready to face their trials, doubts, fears, weakening tendencies or past history. That’s inside work. When you love a person who’s in self-destruct mode, it’s the most challenging thing in the world to disengage if you must, but it’s an essential lesson in life — we cannot save other people, we each must save ourselves. Or not. You cannot manage another person’s path. You can’t take a person by the shoulders and shove them into the cave of their own despair, telling them to sit there and feel it all and let it wash over them until the heat of it is released. That’s a task they choose or they don’t. All you can do is manage your own path. Do your own healing, return to your own love and joy and inner yes. If a person you love is flailing about it pain, you can do everything in your power to support them, but you do them no good if you get down in the mud and flail about with them. That’s not going to help them, but it is going to hurt you. Keep coming back to love. That’s the best thing you can do for yourself, and everyone in your life. Direct your energy.
Sending you love, and wishing you love,