I had to wait a day to finish this post. I was full of emotion when I first starting writing. But I know better, so I kept the thought, but waited to finish. This is a companion past to a previous post; see Sometimes the Best Reactions Are Not Immediate.
I was fortunate as an only child of a single Mother to be disciplined with words and not belts. Only once in my life did my Mother spank me and only after I acted up several times in a row after being told to stop. My Mother always sat me down when I was a bad boy, explained what I did wrong, why it was wrong and then let me think about it. I credit her rearing qualities for the reason I think about what I do constantly to question if I am coming from a good place in my actions. I credit her for making me a person with little to no violent tendencies; I say little, because I kicked a door once when I had had too much to drink…that was a moment I am not proud of! I credit her for giving me the patience to wait out the emotional responses of others in order to resolve issues through calm, constructive conversation.
The only down side to the way I was raised that I know now, is that I can be made to feel guilty very easily. Someones disappointment in me can trigger an immediate guilty response, even when it is not earned. Through practice, I have learned to own my reaction and not let my emotions be held hostage by someone’s reaction or opinion.
Yesterday I was faced with a reaction I did not expect. In a moment when I thought I was being respectful, my extra effort went unrecognized. Instead I got an angry response. I was totally taken aback, baffled. Asking what I did helped none; it was met with silence. In turn, I got angry…but…I did not react in anger. Calmly and patiently, I said, “OK. I don’t understand your reaction.” I controlled my reaction. I remembered, in that moment, that I own my reaction.
This was not my battle. I did not seek a bad reaction and therefore did not deserve to be mad to feel bad. My intent was genuine and well meaning. By owning my reaction, I have the battle no life. It stayed where it belonged, with its instigator and stayed free.
I don’t have a happy ending to the story, at least not yet. When I time comes, I am ready to talk about it calmly and constructively with the respect we both deserve.