The truth of it can really suck sometimes.
How much easier is it to point a finger at someone else? About as easy as melting butter on a hot skillet. And just as smoothly as that pad slides around the pan, we slide into our own habits of blame.
There’s a wide swath of what gets under my skin. Sometimes it’s what’s happening – like traffic backed up on the interstate – and sometimes it’s the behaviors of certain people. I’m one degree away from being triple Fire astrologically (Sun in Aries, Moon in Leo, Ascendant 29 degrees of Cancer), which makes it easy for me to get hot under the collar, and my Grand Trines in Air help me easily express my irritation. All that Fire + Air lends me a Hindenburg temper that, with yoga and meditation, I am learning how to manage.
Thankfully, piqued ire isn’t my natural resting state. I’m generally pretty happy and positive; the norm for me with irritants is “out of sight, out of mind”.
But even if I were to live as a hermit, secluded from all possible interaction with other people or social stresses, I could still stub my toe and get pissed. Irritations are inescapable and serve as a universal stimulant to help me evolve as a human.
It can be painful and humiliating when I take accountability for my reactions to what I don’t like – and why I don’t like it. I realize that I’m exhibiting a lack of love and acceptance in some way, big or small, both for whatever is annoying me and also towards myself.
As I’ve posted before, surrender and introspection teach me the most. They let me know when or if the time is right for action, and which actions to take.
For example, the other day I was driving to pick up my oldest from camp in a city about two hours away. Under normal driving conditions I had plenty of time to make the end-of-camp performance for parents.
Unfortunately, driving conditions weren’t normal that day.
Every damn road out of Charlotte was blocked; and when I say “blocked”, I mean bumper-to-bumper backups. I soon came to realize after trying route after route that there was no way I could make it on time. Extenuating my patience was holding in the verbal vitriol that wanted to slide out (like butter melting) because I didn’t want to let it loose in earshot of my other kids, who were in the backseat.
It took us AN HOUR just get out of Charlotte – as in, city limits. #$%^&*!
Yes, I was pissed. Yes, I wanted to curse, scream, and hit something (LOTS of Fire…). The idea of disappointing my kid made me sad and angry. Being in gridlock made me want a bazooka.
But then… I calmed the f*ck down. If you haven’t read the article that links to – do. It’s written from a parenting perspective, but I think it applies generally, too.
And in that newly opened space, I gave breath to the thought in the back of my mind, which was “What about the people in the accident that gridlocked a city?”. I don’t think missing a recital was the worst part of their day. I hope they are ok.
Then I connected with my upset underneath the traffic issue. Letting my child down, missing an opportunity to see her shine, and not being there to see her doing something she loves felt terrible. Might not seem like a big deal to everyone, but it was a big deal to me in that moment.
I can’t control much, but I can control my choices and keep reminding myself that the world is full of possibilities. I couldn’t prevent the traffic, but I was accountable for my reaction to it.
I realized we were traveling to a city that has a lovely historic downtown. Why not explore? After all, there was no way I was heading back to CLT within any rush hours, and gratefully, we had the luxury of our afternoon and evening free.
We shopped – window and actual (picked up that little gem to the right) – and had dinner out and then drove the two hours home. Happy, tired, fed kids and happy, tired, fed self. A few years ago, I don’t think I would have had the ability to CTF*D as much as I did that afternoon; but with breath and awareness (learned mostly through my yoga practice), our day turned out great.
The more shackled I am to irritation, the more I’m chained to a cycle of delusion that makes me continue to feel bad and which also perpetuates itself. I.e., I get more of the same because I become blind to the prison in which I keep myself. I miss other opportunities when I get stuck under the watch of irritation’s jailers: judgment and expectation.
My traffic irritation is all I have room for here; maybe I’ll address my irritation with how some people behave (including me) in another post. Or maybe I won’t. I truly, truly believe any irritation I have from anyone else’s actions is my problem, not theirs – and vice versa. For as many people that irk me, I don’t doubt I irk them right back. Karma is just so fun. Hopefully, one day we’ll get the hang of releasing it.
(pic from British comedy show The IT Crowd - must be read with a heavy Irish accent)Share