Whether they are in person, by phone or by email, uncomfortable or unpleasant interactions are never any fun. I try to learn from interactions that make me uncomfortable because, if there is one thing I have learned, it’s that, to change these interactions, I have to change my own behaviour. About 20 years ago, I adapted Kolb’s learning cycle into a 4-Step Process for Personal Growth, and I have now added that process to my strategies for Small Scale, Daily Healing™.
Step 1: Experience
A couple of weeks ago, I received an email with language that had an insolent tone and, honestly, it made me angry. Stupidly, I let my anger guide me and I responded immediately with a subtle note of sarcasm in my email.
Later, when I was brooding about why this person was wrong and all the wonderful retorts I was going to use in our next conversation, the inner wise voice reminded me that I should Open My Heart and then examine this situation. The inner ego, of course, protested… What??!! But, but, did you hear what he said??!! … Eventually, my drama queen ego grudgingly agreed to set the anger aside for a moment.
Once I recognized the experience as being uncomfortable, I chose to change it for the next time.
Step 2: Reflect, Analyze & Listen
For the past few days, I’ve been thinking about how I should have responded to that email and how I could interact with this person when we meet. I began by silently forgiving the other person and by forgiving myself; no matter what happened, it’s important to let it go into the earth because I don’t need to hold on to it.
“I forgive (so and so) for everything he has done that hasn’t served my highest good. I forgive myself for everything I’ve done that hasn’t served (so and so’s) highest good.“
I’ve been taking a good, honest look at why I reacted the way I did and whether this is a pattern of behaviour. When has it happened before? Why? How did it make me feel?
I listen for answers to my questions and for guidance from my wise inner voice on what I can do next time an email makes me angry and how I can interact with this particular individual moving forward.
I practice my Calm Balance visualization to ground myself and to look at the situation calmly and with a balanced outlook.
Regularly, throughout the process, I Open My Heart because my heart is good at reminding me to take the high road. All the ego drama is just a drag… literally, it keeps you down.
Step 3: Become Aware & Practice
The next few times I receive an email that makes me angry, I will try different approaches to see how well each works. I will try all or different combinations of the following:
- I create awareness around the fact that this is a pattern and that I have to work to break the cycle.
- I think about why this has happened.
- I wait to respond, preferably until the next day.
- I Open My Heart.
- I do my Calm Balance technique.
- I dissipate my anger by reflecting on what has made me angry and why, and on responding calmly and respectfully, as clearly and as concisely as possible.
- I don’t respond at all.
- I remind myself to take the high road.
- I allow my anger and my ego to go into the earth.
When I forget and I allow my ego to create drama, I won’t beat myself up. I can’t change what has already happened so I work harder to change it for the next time.
Step 4: Implement & Monitor
When I have found a response that seems to work the best, I’ll implement that approach every time. I’ll monitor the results and adapt my response if needed.
If I forget, I’ll remind myself that I’m human and that I’ll try harder for next time. When I remember, I’ll congratulate myself and say good job.
Over the years, my 4-Step Process for Personal Growth has helped me to overcome many negative behaviours that were not serving me. I still have a long way to go but at least I feel good about having a tool that works for me when I need it.