Monday, February 28, 2011

Practicing what I preach... further thoughts

Okay, so my last blog post was Friday and I enjoyed the experiencing of processing my thoughts and feelings and coming to a good conclusion. Apparently, I was resting on my laurels too soon.

Monday morning rolls around and it turns out that my rededication to shoring up my paperwork weakness was short-lived. Despite my best efforts to make sure all my paperwork was up-to-date (I even stayed late on Friday to accomplish it!), I somehow failed to note that my end-of-month billing was due by 8AM on Monday.

Monday+end of month billing+audit+Murphy's Law = bad day. At about 9 am, my phone started ringing. My supervisor... wanting to know when I planned on getting my billing turned in. I had to rearrange my entire morning, drop two clients and reschedule two others, go back to the office and knock out the billing. Fortunately, because all my files were in order because of last week, it didn't take very long. But... you guessed it... because I missed the 8AM deadline, another write up for my HR file.

I found myself feeling and behaving much the same as on Friday, when I was confronted with a similar 'deadline' that I missed. I was a little angry, I found myself doing the justifying self-talk. My supervisor behaved exactly as I expected... just a reminder that my billing was late and that I had another disciplinary sheet to acknowledge when I turned it in. When I interacted with my supervisor, I was short, abrupt and with none of my normal pleasant demeanor. I didn't want to be lectured and I didn't want to be forced to offer up a wimpy excuse for my billing (also, I didn't have one). To be blunt: I was rude.

So, if someone is having a bad day (whether it is of his own making or not)... do they have a right to be ugly to others? Should they be given a pass because of their circumstances?

Looking back on my conclusions Friday, I reaffirm, being responsible for one's own feelings and behaviors is TOUGH. It is harder than I expected even. I felt good about myself that I was able to do it, even if I didn't do it very well. But I think something is missing. Even though I was processing some difficult emotions, even though, I was able to let go of my anger and blame, even though I was a little embarrassed ... I still damaged my relationship with my supervisor by my behavior. I can be completely out of the box toward her (Arbinger language) yet ignoring that I need to repair and reconnect.

It reminds me of the following story: There once was a boy who got angry very easily. Often, when he lost his temper, he would say, shout or scream things that were very hurtful. In an effort to help him learn some skill in regulating his anger, his grandfather, who he loved very much, instructed him to take a hammer and nails and pound a nail in the back fence each time he lost his temper. The first day, the boy went through almost an entire bag of nails. Over time, he learned that it was easier to cool down before reacting than it was to go and get a nail and pound it into the fence and he learned some skill in keeping an even temper. Finally, after a time of demonstrating his emotional skill, his grandfather instructed him to pull a nail out of the fence each day he went without losing his temper. After a while, the boy had removed all the nails he'd pounded into the fence. He told his grandfather about it and took him outside to show him. His grandfather pointed out, "Now, look at the fence. Even though you have removed all the nails, the damage to the fence remains. So it is with our anger. Words spoken in anger, leave scars. They will change your relationships.

Now, I don't believe that is the end of the story for me, but I think it highlights the tendency of most people: Once we've stopped the behavior, we expect that things will just be normal. We fail to follow through with what needs to be done to make things right again. So... the component that I was missing in my conclusions was: Ask myself what I need to do in order to make things right again.

There is a shortage of that line of thinking in this world. Again... I teach this stuff to other people! I should be able to apply it to myself, right? Argh! This relationship stuff is harder than it looks.

Full circle... let's make a spiritual application! God does the hard work of maintaining relationship with us. If ever there is distance between us, it is sure to be of our own doing, as God is constantly working to draw us near to Him. And far from wanting to destroy us, hurt us or punish us, God offers grace, mercy and forgiveness. And more than just putting it in the past, God renews and restores! Revelation 21:5a, "He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!'" What can I do, but follow His example?


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