DO I LET ANGER GET THE BEST OF ME? OR DO I GET THE BEST OF ANGER?
It was a busy Sunday morning. I was tired after a tough week and I allowed myself to snooze which meant I didn’t have the chance to eat a proper breakfast. After a quick shower, I rushed to my 9 am appointment at the vet to get my cat vaccinated, I picked up the dry cleaning on my way back, dropped home the very unhappy cat and headed off to do my weekly grocery shopping. In between activities I tried to answer all the work emails that I didn’t have the chance to answer during the week. Yet again, everything in a rush…
I was looking forwards to meeting my friend Kate for lunch at the new Italian restaurant. There was a huge traffic jam on the way there so the journey took longer than expected. I was getting more and more hungry and increasingly annoyed. Why can’t these people just learn how to drive!? I was close to exploding but I took a deep breath and kept my calm. It was the thought of having my favourite pizza - Hawaiian with pineapple and ham on a thick crust - which helped me get through the traffic without road rage. You can call it practicing pizza-mindfulness.
I arrived twenty minutes late and Kate was waiting. She had chosen a table next to the window. I wasn’t too happy about it as the day was quite chilly and I felt as if I was starting to catch a cold. But as I was so hungry and relieved to finally be there, I didn’t say anything.
Kate had just started her new job and was really excited so she went straight into telling me everything about it. Normally I would share her enthusiasm but at that point, all I wanted was my food. I looked at the menu and I discovered there was no Hawaiian pizza.
“Great” I thought to myself “What sort of Italian place doesn’t have a Hawaiian pizza?! I think this is ridiculous.” My inner voice continued... “and the prices… $30 for a pizza? This is just crazy! It better be good… Well since they don’t have the Hawaiian, I’ll get the vegetarian one. I love mushrooms too so this should do the trick.”
After what seemed like ages, our order arrived. I wouldn’t describe what I received as a pizza. It was a thin pastry with some tomatoes, peppers and broccoli… no mushroom as promised on the menu. That’s it. I felt the anger building up inside me. I wanted to snap at the waiter, tell him what I thought of this place, their overpriced food and then just walk out. I wanted Kate to join me in my anger so that together we could set things straight so that restaurants like this don’t survive. But I didn’t.
Instead, I took a deep breath and asked myself “What am I feeling right now?”… In my mind I scanned through my Feeling Magnets. Annoyed, yup. Irritable, that too. Enraged, yes… definitely a lot of Anger there. It makes sense, they didn’t have the pizza I wanted and now it seemed unfair that I didn’t even get the one I finally ordered. Yes, I knew the Anger was there to give me motivation and energy to make this situation right.
I let myself feel the anger… really feel it (but not act on it) and I felt it weakening. It’s true, there is definitely something magical in putting feelings into words. As I started to think more clearly I realized I had a choice as to how I would use this energy and motivation to make things right. I could let my emotions take over and let out my anger on the innocent waiter or I could simply ask the waiter for some mushroom on my pizza. He came back with a new pizza with lots of mushrooms on it and it turned out to be one of the best pizzas I have ever had.
Looking back it seems like a no brainer… so simple. But in the moment it took a lot for me to pause, really understand what I was feeling and consciously choose how I wanted to act. It does get easier every time but what keeps me going is that I end up getting what I want more often and in the end I feel more satisfied.
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