Wednesday, September 4

Boundary Practice: Dodging a Raging Bull..................... 9/4/13

"For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty
 seconds of peace of mind."      Ralph Waldo Emerson. 
 "When you are angry or frustrated, what comes out? Whatever it is, it's a good indi-cation of what you are made of.  H. Jackson Brown 

        Saturday evening, I dodged a raging bull.

       I did this calmly.  I even had presence of mind.  I came across this angry person while registering for the event at the front door.
      I hadn't seen her for two years.  "Why," she asked, "did you stop attending the meeting on Tuesday nights?"  I let her in on my reason.  

       Two and a half hours later, after the event was over, this woman stood behind a friend I was speaking to, giving intense eye contact.

        When the conversation was done with that friend, this woman, coiffed in a Mohawk hairdo tried---several times---to intimidate.  She wanted to scold.  My, was that interesting.  She found fault with what I said, earlier.

        The katas provided through years of training in nonviolent com-munication helped maintain my equanimity.  It permitted me to respond and not react.  I let her know I disagreed. 

        She was apoplectic, when I told her, "I never gave you permission to judge me.  I want you to stop.  We only do our own inventory."  This she knows.  She's attended Al-Anon Family Groups for two years and three months.  

        She also has been working this program with a sponsor, who once was my girlfriend.   I continued, "You do not do my inventory.  This is not how we do things in Al-Anon."  That is, a rundown of what was wrong with me. 

        She wanted to correct me because of my comment earlier that night.  She did not like my answer when I told her why I no longer attended the meeting.   
"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret."     Ambrose Bierce 
        Her eyes tried piercing my serenity.  She exasperatingly and loudly  blurted, "I'm only expressing my feelings!!"  She did this in the midst of Saturday's event, bustling with people.  The majority of whom have suffered because of their relating with bombastic people, mainly alcoholics.

          Like her.

         Ah, that was a misstep.  She said this to someone who knows  emo-tional and verbal aikido.

         My friends stood a foot and a half away.  They were behind her.  They were facing one another in a circle, chatting away, sharing their reaction to an inspiring time.  We had just heard two dynamic speakers.

         Little did they know about the drama unfolding next to them. I was gently smiling at my accuser.  I was facing them, feeling calm.  Even while encountering a raging bull.  "What would Christ, or the Dalai Lama do, in a similar occasion?" was my thought.

        Back to the drama on Dowling Street, in San Leandro........
        Love apples filled my cheeks, as I spoke.

        "You are not expressing your feel-ings.  You are judg-ing. You're making a statement about my behavior.  That is not expressing emotions."  She was dumbfounded.  Her mouth was agape, the smoke emitting from her ears, stopped. 

         "I'm not in agreement with you,"  I continued. "I do not like your parental tone.  I am your equal and you are mine."

         We get what we tolerate.  Every adult has a right to dis-agree.  Only little children not making sense are prohibited from disagreeing with adults. 

         I added, "Thank you for sharing. What you've said allows me to know your values and your worldview.  This conversation is over.

          She huffily replied, "Thank you for letting me share." 

          "You're welcome," I replied. 

           And that was that.  

            I was none the worse for emotional wear.  I took two and a half steps forward, rejoining my circle of friends with a smile.  They had no clue that enduring a tempest with an angry person was just had by this writer. 

      Some principles fixed in my mind, while making like a bullfighter that night: 
 Our feelings, whether good or bad, are our property. They fall within our boundaries.  Our feelings are our re-sponsibility. Others' feelings are theirs. If other people feel sad, it is their sad-ness. This does not mean that they do not need someone else to be with them in their sadness and to empathize with them.  It does mean the person who is feeling sad [or angry] must take re-sponsibility for that feeling.              Henry Cloud, Changes That Heal, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992) 123
If we feel responsible for others peo-ple's displeasure, we are being controlled by others, not by God [or our principles]. This is a basic boundary disturbance..... If self-centered people are angry at you, it means you are learning to say no to evil.  If mean people are displeased with you, it means that you are stand-ing up to abuse..... If your parents do not like the decisions that you as an adult feel God has led you to make, it means you are growing up.                                                               Changes, 123
       We don't want to put another person's anger in control of our lives.  Heavens, that's codependency and something most people do, unfortunately.  

Gratitudes We Can Have: 

1.  It is wonderful, the emotional maturity we enjoy when we replace once vulnerable places in our souls with healthy principles.

     In Saturday's case, one stabilizing princi-ple was that we are equal with every other adult on this planet.  When this anger-filled person tried chiding me, I took her behavior for what it was: unacceptable.  I deserve greater respect than that, regardless of her perceptions. 

     We don't want to accept blame, shame, guilt, fear or judgment when relating with others.  They are forms of life-alienating communication. 

2.  We don't accept unacceptable behavior.  Others do not define us nor determine our moods

3.  We can be trained like Navy Seal.  A different type, however.  When the bullets of accusations, rage, or condescension fly our way, we can know what to do.  The danger is noted.

     As it approaches, we deflect it.  We do not allow the tempest coming our way to disturb our peace of mind. At the same time, we have no desire to hurt the angry person.  

     When the bullets of personal attacks appear, we respond, using recovery principles to shield us. We don't react.
      Every time we practice boundaries, We get strong-er.  It becomes easier to do.  At first, we may be a bit clumsy.  We may not know how to assert ourselves.

     This weekend that wasn't a problem.  I am well-practiced. 

      Assertiveness is like learning a new tune on a musical instrument.  It's awkward, at first. With practice, it gets easier. We get smoother.

       Eventually, we have finger memory.  We don't even have to think while performing. 

      Same holds true for saying our no as gently as our yes.  (Courage to Change,  Virginia Beach, Al-Anon Family Groups Headquarters, 1992, p 104.)  This is also true when we do not allow pleasing others to be our default mode.  It is in our best mental and emotional interest to consider our feelings, needs, and behaviorwhen we are in a relational drama.  (Courage, p. 359.)

      That's being internally referented

4.  We can have peace of mind.  This increasingly becomes a part of our lives when we do not base our self-worth on what we do.  Nor does it consist of what others think of us. 

5.  "When the applause of others is necessary for me to feel good about myself, I have given them power over me." Courage, p. 9.  We don't need approval to validate ourselves. 

6.  With an angry person confronts us, we can say what we mean. We can mean what we say.  But we do not need to express ourselves meanly.  It is fantastic when we are no longer tongue-tied when confronted. 

7.  We help ourselves when we surround ourselves with good friends.  We want to focus on them.  From them, we know love and know we are lovable.  Being grounded this way strengthens us.  It steels us.  It helps us to not be as shaken by unruly others.

      If they are having a bad day, and in Saturday's case,   We don't take it personally. It's a statement about them, not us.

8.  I appreciate this truth: 
"Acting like a victim is a    choice, not a destiny."                   Hope for Today, p 189
9.  Rejoice, our character can continue to grow.  That happens when we stay in the solution.  When unpleasant people are upset with us, we want to remember the quote by Henry Cloud.  We are stand-ing up to abuse.

 10.  We want to have compassion for people like the woman who confronted me on Saturday.  They allow us to practice boundaries.  They give us a stronger appreciation for friends.

        Someone’s mental state plays a huge role in their physical health.  If someone’s making life difficult for people around them, you can be sure they’re doing worse to themselves.

How About You? 
 What have you learned over the past year that helps you keep your poise when relating to an angry person?

Related Post:
Relating with Emotional Vampres

1 comment:

Someone said...

There is a raging bull in my life, and for so long I've tried to fix them and change them, but I've realized that that doesn't work, and instead I just become more mad. So now instead I just leave him be, and realize that it's not my duty to fix them. I have to let someone else that has the credentials to do that, and in return I can be free of this burden and let go of what I was trying to get myself into; relieving myself of stress.

Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.