“This food is disgusting!”
And, just in case the entire dinner company had not heard the announcement correctly,
“THIS FOOD IS FOR PIGS.”
Earlier in the day, this mother and her son enjoyed an outing at the neighboring pick-your-own farm where they harvested fresh corn.
Golden and shining with butter, the corn-on-the-cob now lay steaming on their plates.
“Yummy” to most of the family.
“Yucky” to one…
…who decided that if he had to suffer, then everyone would too.
My friend looked at me dolefully as she shared the story. Then admitted, she wished it had been a child speaking.
The anger-spewer was an adult.
Being Right Fuels Anger
School of Etiquette 101 teaches that insulting the cook is impolite and wrong. School of Life teaches that if you want food for dinner tomorrow, talk nice.
From the school of Mom-of-4-Boys, I know how much sweat, elbow grease, time, money, AND LOVE go into meals.
Planning. Shopping. Preparing. Eating. Teaching table manners. Cleaning.
And over again.
Rude comments à table just slice up the atmosphere. Conversation is chewed up. The mood and the food lose their spice.
I understood her anger and feeling of justified ire in the face of purposeful insults. ESPECIALLY from an adult. Aghhh! Those repeated times trying to set a good example being swiftly undercut!
My friend poured out her frustration and fury. She was RIGHT. The other one was wrong.
And yet…I wonder if the other person felt justified in spouting these purposeful insults too. There usually is another side of a story.
My friend was not ready to hear that. Not while she relived the feelings of being shamed in front of her children and of having her parenting efforts dismantled. So, I stayed with her. Just stayed…until she readied to move out of…reliving the pain.
Our feelings don’t just linger as emotions; they lead to decisions and actions.
Often hurt leads to revenge.
Yet, what a cost. When the sh__ hits the fan, there’s LOTS of clean-up. Too much for my taste!
My friend’s issue centered on corn-on-the-cob comments. You and I will have another. And we will ALL face the same choices:
- To focus on the behavior…or on the relationship?
- To choose to be “Right” …or will I choose to love?
- To try and change other people…or to venture to grow ourselves?
I choose to change me.
It might sound easy. IT IS TOUGH.
When Being Right Means Being Stuck in Anger
In no way do I condone disrespectful comments or inappropriate table manners.
At the same time, I don’t want to be a Zax either.
In this Dr. Seuss story, the South-going Zax and the North-going Zax met up and neither will budge. They “reason” (a.k.a. argue). “Discuss” (a.k.a. butt heads). And stay stuck, arms crossed, faces frowned. Meanwhile life progresses around them.
If a relationship has a chance, someone must make a conciliatory move.
And the only person I can control is me.
I remember when I tried to mend a bruised relationship. I used “I statements” like, “I felt hurt when you _______ (spoke meanly about the food) and I would like to hear you recognize that ______(those were mean words).”
The person stormed out of the room.
I tried again a day later. “You have to learn to let go,” I was told.
Choosing to Love
That response hurt.
And part of me wanted to let the relationship go.
Yet I choose to stay connected.
It means choosing to love even still…
Nelson Mandela is reputed to say, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
I want to live. Richly. Fully.
Not feebly in between sips of arsenic.
LEARN TO LET GO!
It’s disconcerting to hear the right message when it comes from the “wrong” person.
Loving above & beyond Anger or Hurt
Here’s what helped me let go.
Look at what to hold onto
Not focusing on the hurt is like not thinking of the pink elephant.
Every time you try, it looms LARGE.
Instead choose to concentrate on something positive
- To define respect in your home
- To heal the other’s wounds
(Those who hurl revenge often harbor hurt)
Focus on the issue (vs. taking it personally)
If there were no grain of truth, an insult would have little hold.
An offense aims to distract from the issue to the person. We all mess up. It does not make us a messed-up person.
Go on a treasure hunt to identify the underlying grievance. Does it concern your behavior? Might it belong to the other person?
It could be their need to feel loved, belonging, and able to contribute. We humans become superbly AWKWARD in expressing our deepest needs!
Maybe your and my vision is blurred. Our “attacker” untucked a hidden issue (like, “you take care of the kids but not me”). We would have trouble hearing the message even if it were kindly said…
Is there a “right” person or a “good” way to learn DIFFICULT lessons?!
Get encouragement elsewhere
Airplane security guidelines ALWAYS indicate that in case of turbulence to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others.
How are you and I getting that required boost?
Schedule self-care. Make time to do one thing that makes you feel better.
Do it before the crash!
In an ideal world, we might commune over every topic with our spouse. We don’t all live in Utopia at every second of the day.
It’s too much to ask of anyone to completely fill our emotional needs. Could you do that for others? (I cannot.)
Give your partner a break. You and I will need them to let go for us too.