Here I am sitting in a hotel room in Ireland. It has been a busy day and we got a lot accomplished. Now that I am not busy designing and facilitating meetings & workshops – one after the other for the day – I am present to a certain sadness. What am I sad about?
I did not manage my emotions. My emotions played me and in that play my eldest son was hurt both by my words (of criticism) and by my actions (shouting at him). As a result the affinity, the kindness, the love that was present between me and my son is missing. This evening I did not even have the courage to ask to speak to him. I got that was me being ashamed of myself and not wanting to deal with the situation. So I asked to speak to him and he refused to speak to him. I totally get that and that is perfectly ok. And it is also not ‘perfectly ok’ – not if I am ‘Playing BIG’ as cultivating relationships that work is a key part of that game (as I have created it). So is managing my frustrations and emotions.
Now I can attach various meanings around me and what has happened. I can make myself wrong, criticise myself, label myself as ‘bad’, can count that as another ‘failure’. And then I can withdraw, quit the game, beat myself up and just say ‘that is the way I am and that is the way I will always be’. Yes, I can do that. If I do that then what does that do for my son? How does that address is hurt? How does that rebuild our fractured relationship?
I am choosing to give a different meaning to what is occurred and what is present. I am up for creating a meaning that leaves me in a powerful position to handle the rift with my son, to learn and to deal with the situations that ‘press my buttons’. Specifically:
a) When I am under time pressure and I have multiple demands (simultaneously) on my time then I do not deal with that situation well at all. I get into a state of distress. Why? Because I want to please all the people who are depending on me – asking something of me. So I chicken out and try to do everything putting myself under more pressure. And then someone pays the price of my ‘cowardice’ – failing to be straight with people and handling their disappointment when I say that I cannot do something they are asking of me.
b) When people ask me for something at the last minute (and I already have a lot on my plate) I get annoyed and angry with that person. And that is simply because I do not say clearly and firmly “Sorry, this is last minute and I cannot help you now” and when they insist I fail to say convincingly “No is no!”
c) What there is for me to do is to talk with my son and ask him what I need to do to make things right and do those things such that they work for him and work for me;
d) Be mindful that these situation press my buttons and take the action to make sure that they do not arise and if they do then be straight with people and myself – what I cannot do I cannot do – and deal calmly with any disappointment.
The practice that I am taking on is the practice of saying “No” when the appropriate action is to say “No” and importantly BE “No”. It is a challenge for me and I up for the challenge. Now, what will it take to build that bridge with my son? I believe I have an idea that will work for my son – take some of his pain away. I rang just now and it is late and the family is asleep – I will call him tomorrow.