Sometimes I feel the best thing I can do is just to not get drawn into other people’s black holes of crazy. Crazy/angry/upset people have an energy about them that is like its own gravity. It is easy to get swept up and swept away. It is easy to get lost.
I remember a time when a manager was arguing with me over the best way to handle a bad situation. The program that we used at work had gone down and there was a way to check people out in the meantime. It was the way I’d been trained, and it worked, and I’d used it for over a decade. It turns out there was another way to do it that had been policy for years. She wanted me to learn it right then. Right in the middle of a bad situation is not the time to learn a new procedure. It is a great time to stick with a known good.
She got very upset with me that I refused to try the new procedure right then. Part of her anger came from the fact that my boss should have taught us this, and she can’t stand my boss. Part of her anger came from the fact that she is supposed to be in charge and she really isn’t. You can be a manager in name only.
I was getting drawn into her anger and her argument. I was feeling that anger, that tension. This used to be common for me. I’d get that deer in the headlights look when someone would argue or yell, and lose myself in the mix.
I hate feeling like that. I’ve prayed about it, I’ve read books on nonviolent conflict resolution, and I’ve studied yoga. But it is hard to be objective about what is going on when you are sucked into it.
Until I did.
Somehow at that moment I was able to step outside of my feelings and observe them. I didn’t like how I felt. I didn’t like having an argument about something that didn’t need to be argued about right then. Or ever, really. There is very little in life that needs to be yelled. Building on fire? Yell. Policy change? Don’t yell. Easy.
In the middle of that getting-worse situation, I looked at her and said “we aren’t arguing about this right now.”
And somehow, we weren’t. It stopped. The black hole of crazy lost all of its power. It stopped sucking, in more ways than one. The situation got handled and it was OK.
I was stunned. I was surprised that I was able to be objective in that crazy moment. I was surprised that simply saying that we weren’t going to argue meant that we didn’t.
And I’m thankful for this new learning, that it takes two to argue. By my intentional action, peace happened. By my presence and calm, the issue was fixed.
Peace can start within, with one person.
It took a long time for me to get to the space where I could be objective about my feelings and then act accordingly. It took a long time to get where my feelings weren’t driving the bus. It took a long time to get where my “monkey mind” wasn’t winning. I’m glad to know it is possible. It takes a lot of practice to keep this awareness going, but I see the results. Calm me means calm people around me. My awareness is healing.
I want more of this. I want more people to be aware of this. If we are all aware of the tricks our minds and bodies play on us, then we are all going to do a lot better. We don’t have to get drawn into the black hole of crazy that comes from other people, or from within.
By staying calm, we keep the peace.