Be courageous in the face of ‘negative’ emotions

“My philosophy is to “kill the monster while it’s little.” The best time to handle a “negative” emotion is when you first begin to feel it. It’s much more difficult to interrupt an emotional pattern once it’s full-blown.” – Tony Robbins

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

Last week I made plans to meet up with a friend for lunch.  I was a few minutes late and was rushing to get there.  When I showed up at the restaurant, she was nowhere to be found.  I looked around, and there was no sign of her.  Did she leave?  Was she running late too?  I checked my phone.  Nothing!

Her phone rang out when I called.  I was starting to get impatient, and I could feel the irritation slowly rising.  It was now 15 minutes past the time we had agreed to meet.  I called again with the same result.  A minute later, my third call went directly to voicemail.

Shortly after a text arrived, “Sorry, it’s was an emergency.  I can’t talk now. I’ll call you later.”  I quickly texted back, “Lunch canceled?  I am at the restaurant.”

I was LIVID!  Whatever happened to common courtesy?  I just spent an hour getting there only to get this lousy text.  Would it have been so difficult to let me know in advance?

As the Universe would have it, on my train ride to meet her, I had been reading The Gifts of Imperfection.  In that book, which I highly recommend, Brene Brown talks about our default settings when dealing with emotions such as anger and fear.

These ingrained reactions require no courage at all, serve to protect us, and move us away from our authenticity.  By being aware of our default settings, we can name them and choose to be courageous instead.

The courageous thing in this case was for me to admit that I was hurt.  Rather than follow-up with an enraged text, I chose to be with the anger and the heat in my body.

I left the restaurant and walked slowly and consciously back to the train station.  After a few moments, I noticed the anger dissipating.  All of a sudden, I was feeling compassion towards my friend, and I was looking forward to continuing the rest of the book on my train ride back.

By the time I got off the train, I received a text, “I am sorry, Tanuja. I thought I sent you a text this morning.  I had an emergency at work.  Could we reschedule for next week?”

I quickly responded, “I understand.  These things happen. I am free on Tuesday.”

I later realized that she had been texting my old number, and I was grateful for my courageous choice.

Are you aware of your default settings?  What is one courageous choice you’d like to make instead?

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