Perspective – When My Attitude Flares Up, How I Tone It Down, and Why I Should

MOST of the time I *try* to be a decent human being.  I try to reflect on my behaviors – good, bad, and ugly – and to conduct myself in an upstanding way as much as I can.

I ALSO fall short plenty!

As human beings, we are subject to more influences than I think we ever want to admit (hell, even the moon has me all off kilter when it’s full!) We are subject to changes in mood, for so many reasons that it would be nigh impossible to list them all.  But that’s okay.  We are allowed to ebb and flow, because that is just the nature of life.  We don’t have to be perfect all the time, and even if we have some grandiose notion that we’d like to be. . .it doesn’t always play out that way.

But the other day a thought came to mind that stopped me right in the middle of my “if-the-car-in-front-of-me-doesn’t-speed-up-I’m-going-to-go-nuts!” rant.  It was such a jarring thought that my attitude shifted. Instantaneously.  

I have the wonderful fortune of volunteering with children with disabilities with two organizations – I’ve never found something that lit my heart quite as much (and that’s saying a LOT, as I am a truly passionate person about my life, my activities, and the careers I have had.) I love the kids, and I love meeting their parents – learning about them, their individualities, and what makes them happy, is an overwhelming joy.

So as I was having this moment of “can’t stand anyone” (and I think it was in reaction to a woman tailgating on the highway and giving me the middle finger, despite that I had no idea what I did to warrant it) I thought to myself. . .

What if the person in that car who I’m getting all flustered because of, or at, was one of the parents of the kids I get to work with?  Would I act the same way?

Resounding NO.

I wasn’t *trying* to give myself a guilt trip, or make myself feel badly.  When my behavior deviates – and I think it’s fair to say, as adults, we generally know when we are being unreasonable and inappropriate with our reactions (should we choose to be honest with ourselves!) – I am aware of it.  I do try to correct myself and in effort to curb poor actions, I have said to myself everything from “you never know who has a weapon!” “you can’t take back what you say,” to “that really doesn’t make me a good person to flip someone off”…!

Doesn’t always seem to calm me down, though!  

But. . .the thought that it *could be* someone in a situation such as the families whose children I work with shut me down pronto.

I would never want to behave that way with one of them.  And when I think about it, I can’t imagine I really want to act that way with ANYone.  What does reacting poorly say about me anyway? Nothing grand, I assure you!

When I think about it, it makes me feel sad that I would allow temporary emotions to overcome me in such a way that I lash out – in any regard.  As a human being, I know it is bound to happen, and that expecting myself to be Miss. Goody Twoshoes is NOT realistic.  But because I don’t know what other people are facing, and because I also know how blessed I am, I appreciated the supernal reminder. . .which stopped me from getting angry, or for the woman who flipped me off to ruin more than the few seconds of my day during which she did so.

I know I’m going to fall short sometimes, but that moment was one I know I will remember. . .

I have the blessing to work with those who have a journey fraught with challenges, and I LOVE the work because I have the opportunity to make lives better. To behave poorly as a result of flared emotions is to contribute in a negative way, and I will suffer personally when I choose that route.  The only thing that would make it worse is to also hurt someone else who didn’t deserve it to begin with…and I’d say I don’t really want to decide that someone deserves any of that.

 

Humor – Black Label and Bubblegum

Bubblegum (sugar-free, of course) happens to be a real saving grace for me. Yes, I know the majority of ingredients are alarmingly unpronounceable.  And I am perfectly well aware that increasing the rate and intensity at which I chew may well land me in TMJ (temporomandibular joint) jail – I’ve induced the condition in the past – vehemently chomping through stress – so no need to preach to me about that!

Bazooka Gum comic

Bazooka Gum comic

Still. . .bubblegum – Bubblemint, to be clear – has prevented me from many an unsavory situation.  Perhaps it is the sweet, non-sugared (though, thanks to fancy-pants, long-winded chemicals) “candied,” pink piquancy that accounts for the of super, ass-kicking power it bestows upon the chewer?  I wish I could have asked Roddy Piper. . .

Roddy Piper from They Live

Roddy Piper from They Live

Let’s take the recent crane crash on the Tappan Zee bridge… How fun was it to get that news, while already driving back home at the WORST time of day?!  

The reroute of traffic (through every neighboring town, city, suburb, what have you) to the GWB (that’s George Washington Bridge, for those fortunate not to know it) caused a massive hazarai.  New Yorkers are naturally aggressive on the road – add to that proclivity the threat. . .er, promise. . .of substantial delays, and you are a minnow maneuvering in a shark tank.  Yikes.

One lady literally drove her car towards mine, only a hair shy of indentation.  Normally I might say a few disgruntled words to myself…but her singing and snide, deliberately obnoxious (feigned, I dare add) “smiley” attitude rubbed me so the wrong way that I thought I was about to get out of the car – Black Label hoodie, four-eyed and all.  It was like a wave of precursory “road rage” that broadsided me.  As a martial artist I always have that voice that kicks in saying “you never know who you are dealing with” in the back of my head.  Well, that angel’s voice took its quick cue, thankfully. . .but it wasn’t until I had some bubblegum that the devil was quelled.

All hail the mighty Bubble(mint)!

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Yes…three, simulated-saccharine pieces and all was okay with the world.  (Alright, my knee was uptight and I wanted out, but it was better.)

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As Waze and Google simultaneously – and resolutely! – labored to find the fastest route (I was on it but one can hope), I took a deep breath, turned up my Octane, and enjoyed the familiar swell of sweetness. 

Ahhhh…

Humor – The Grocery Store

Does this ever happen to you?

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I try to always air on the side of staying positive, but I am not exempt from being human…and grumpy…at times.  Try as I may, I can’t always understand the folks who stand at the card reader when their items are all bagged and ready to go…and the next customer’s are being processed and sent down the belt!  Um…traffic jam, hello!?

Do you know what I mean?!

Or what about the people who aren’t ready with tender and slowly count everything out…penny by penny…nevermind the enormous line behind them?

I guess what bothers me at that moment – right or wrong – is that I know I try to be super mindful of others.  I bag my own groceries… I bring my own bags to begin with.  I have my card ready to swipe, and I know I need to gather my things and hustle so the next person can take my place.

I’m definitely not better than anyone, so I don’t mean to suggest (or even hint) at that.  But I DO think that being mindful is important, and kind of wish the sentiment was a global one.  When it mindfulness finds itself in short supply…especially at the grocery store (which most of us hope is a quick in-and-out)…?

Yep.  Aisle rage!    

It might start when the person coming the other way has their cart out in the center of an INCREDIBLY narrow aisle, mindlessly scanning the soup cans in front of them, completely oblivious to the fact that you need to get by (as do the two couples behind you.)  Or maybe when you are trying to find what you need, where you know you’ll find it, but someone has their cart sitting in front with no obvious sense of urgency…or time at all?  

It’s the overwhelming lack of awareness that I think provokes the road rage synapses to start firing.  I feel like many of us fail to comprehend someone else’s perceived cessation of time when the rest of us have somewhere to be – life is so fast-paced these days it almost sounds outrageous to dawdle with such abandon (at least, it FEELS that way when we want to pick up dinner and move on already!)

I endeavor to contain myself (sometimes it’s tough!) but I’ve seen ugliness when someone young, fit, and able…just kind of stands there without concern for those around him / her.   You know the type – waits for the cashier to bag also, and load the cart?  I don’t know about you but I have to distract myself, lest I burst out with “do you think *maybe* you could HELP instead of just standing there?!”

So anyway, I came across that little blurb above and almost fell over giggling.  Kind of nice to know I’m not the only one!