July 15, 2024

The Calm Starts with You

Have you ever been in one of those situations where tensions explode? What starts out as a minor distraction escalates rapidly to finger-pointing, accusations, and punishment? The “drama triangle” has multiple players in both the Persecutor and Victim corners, and all hell breaks loose.

Who’s in charge? Who can stop this?

If you’re one of the combatants, it’s you!

I know this because I’m aware of how much gasoline I carry around just to engage someone in an argument. “It’s just who I am.” And I’ve always been able to calm a rant by what I call “pouring cold water on the situation.” I know inherently that I can stop the rant.

When two people square off at each other, their respective Knower/Judger filters are usually offended and one’s “rule of life” doesn’t interface well with the other’s. For example, I believe that people should follow through on what they say they’ll do. If I’m spending my precious time waiting for Party B to show up well after when and where they said they would, I get mad! When (if) they finally get there, they get a Persecutor earful from me, and I’m not satisfied until they’re quivering in their Victim status. That’s pretty much the pattern, isn’t it? You have an expectation from your Knower/Judger, and the other party doesn’t have the clarity of your vision. Idiot!

Can you see how judging gets the ball rolling? Opening gambits like “you should’ve…” and “why didn’t you…” get fired off, only to meet with defensive strategies of either passive apology or elevated aggression.

If you can step out of this battle and see it from a third-party perspective, it can occur to you that this might be a waste of time. It makes more sense to find a way to calm down and set everybody back on task. But the conflagration is raging and there’s only going to be one winner….and that’s you! They were flat wrong, after all. Extremely late and never even called… etc., etc., etc.!

Here’s how to get back to pulling in the same direction: Give it up! Yeah, you! I know your expectations weren’t met. Eckhart Tolle suggests three options when this happens (we’ve discussed them before): 1) Engage enthusiastically, 2) Enjoy passively, or 3) Accept. When you fire the opening salvo, you’re not doing any of those. You’re punishing and getting some Knower/Judger psychological need met. And therein lays the foundation of the struggle.

When you’re present enough to see this activity wasting time and energy and emotion, and that life in general would be better served if you weren’t engaged in it, you have a choice. Move forward with full armament and attempt to win the battle, or accept the unmet expectation as data for adjusting future expectations, and get on with life.

See? It’s the choice that we really don’t see in the heat of battle.

At a rally this past weekend, a guy who reads this e-zine verbally jabbed me with remnants of an ancient unresolved spat we’d had. Now I see this guy once a year… and the spat occurred six years ago. So my Knower/Judger declared him ridiculous, pulled on the armor, and jabbed right back. We were off and running for the remainder of the weekend, as if it had happened yesterday.

This gentleman is a respected organizer for our sport. He’s got years and years of history of developing and executing one of the finest rallies in North America. I have similar credentials. But he obviously doesn’t respect mine, so why should I respect his? (Does any of this sound familiar?)

By the awards banquet late Saturday evening, I decided that the negativism and wasted energy was serving neither of us, nor the bystanders who knew what was going on. I decided to stop. Leave the past behind. Give it up. Congratulate him and his team for the wonderful event they’d pulled off (under difficult circumstances, I might add). From my side, it was over. It had never been worth it to begin with, but I was so buried in my K/J concept of right and wrong that I felt compelled to teach him (and meet my own needs to win an argument) that I was the more aggressive, the cleverer, and right, damn it! (What a waste.)

I do not know if my choice was recognized. I guess I’ll see that data next year. But it’s not important to me—I have no expectations here. It’s the expectations that started this whole thing anyway. My mentor, Jut Meininger, has tried valiantly to help me get rid of my expectations for years. “Expectations are the foundation of all stress,” he’s advised. I’m beginning to see the light.

2 thoughts on “The Calm Starts with You

  1. Very helpful. I’ll meditate on this, hopefully embed it in my brain for the next time some expectation of mine isn’t met. I’m trying to reduce the astronomical stress in my life right now, and I think this– letting go– can be an effective tool.

    Thanks for the great writing and perspectives!

    1. Kristin,

      My experience is that it’s all about letting go of the historical messages and rules…so much of what we do is on auto-pilot!

      Thanks for the comment! And Merry Christmas.


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