Yesterday I was at the grocery store checkout. I had a full cart of groceries.
A woman was walking from aisle to aisle with two items in her hands looking angry. She seemed agitated and in a hurry.
I said to her, “Excuse me, why don’t you cut in front of me.”
She gave me a dirty look and said something in a rude tone but it was unintelligible and proceeded to stand behind someone else with a full cart.
Ok, there’s a lot to unpack here.
But I’m not going to…
There was a time that this woman’s behavior would have pissed me off. Ask anyone and you’ll know that I am happy to speak my mind. I would have popped off on her and been rude back. (Nice. I know.) I would have likely carried with me this exchange for a while and there may have been some expletives.
So here’s the deal. This was all her stuff and none of it had anything to do with me.
I tell you this story not because I’m carrying it; I’m not. And THAT my friends is the gift.
When my kids were little I read them the story of the two monks from the book Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth. In it, a woman is extraordinarily rude to the old monk making him carry her across a mud puddle. The young monk is irritated on behalf of his friend…all day. At the end of the day, he says to the old monk, “Can you BELIEVE that lady? She was SO RUDE!!” The old monk replies, “I set that woman down hours ago, why haven’t you?”
We get to choose how we react in any situation. We get to decide in every moment if we’re going to get hooked or if we’re not.
Jill Bolte Taylor writes in her book “My Stroke of Insight” (which is an outstanding read btw) that after our limbic (emotional) system is triggered, it takes only 90 seconds for the trigger, the surge of emotion to flow through our body, and then physiologically IT.IS.DONE.
After 90 seconds? You get to choose to keep that trigger, or let it go out of your body and OUT OF YOUR MIND and OUT OF YOUR SPIRIT.
You get to choose to hold on to irritation, anger, frustration, agitation OR you get to choose to let it go after you feel it for 90 seconds.
What Taylor does is set her watch for :90 and then when the feeling is done, she’s done.
Another tool that I use is that I ask myself, “Is this my stuff or is this your stuff?” You can quickly start to discern what’s yours and what is someone else’s and detach or unhook from it.
Let me know what you think.