When the Trickster throws me lemons, I can do better than make lemonade.
A week ago, my operating system, Win10, seems to have decided I had worked it too hard and went on strike. Stopped functioning. Kaput. And didn’t want to repair, nohow.
My honey spent days installing, wiping out, re-installing the system and all my programs. At least three times, it crashed again. Meanwhile, I had sporadic access to my PC, and when I did, I spent endless hours resetting defaults and customizing programs to my liking. Not my favorite way to spend my precious time.
It could have been enough for me to want to pull out my new post-chemo-baldness curls!
But it wasn’t, and I didn’t.
Because I had a choice. And I chose not to.
Remember, it is not enough to be hit or insulted to be harmed, you must believe that you are being harmed. If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation. Which is why it is essential that we not respond impulsively to impressions; take a moment before reacting, and you will find it easier to maintain control.Epictetus (The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness and Effectiveness)
I agree with this ancient Greek Stoic philosopher (italics mine). And it is equally true if I replace someone with something (ie, an event… like my computer repeatedly crashing).
Everything originates in the mind, including our emotions and the meaning we give to them.
It’s a basic psychological principle that a significant part of emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to feel an emotion without having to act on it. Self-awareness is key.
I’ve learned that when something occurs to raise an emotion in me, especially one we (erroneously) call negative (anger, frustration, impatience, anxiety, etc), I can choose how to let that emotion develop. I can let it take over my brain—that’s the simple choice.
Or, I can stop, mentally step back, feel the emotion fully throughout my body without judging it, and, by leaning into it, let it dissipate. And then I can calmly choose a more rational way to respond.
Read that Epictetus quote again. Better not to respond on impulse. That’s giving others or circumstances the power to push your emotional buttons.
When I was much younger, people could send me into a tizzy whenever they spoke with sexist, racist, or unjust words. There were even people in my life who got their jollies out of pushing those buttons in me; I was that transparent.
I eventually twigged their game. It made me realize that impetuous emotional retorts would not change minds or hearts. They only served to aggravate the conflict and make me look foolish.
So now I laugh. When people taunt me. When the Trickster throws lemons at me. I laugh.
Many native traditions held clowns and tricksters as essential to any contact with the sacred. People could not pray until they had laughed, because laughter opens and frees from rigid preconception. Humans had to have tricksters within the most sacred ceremonies for fear that they forget the sacred comes through upset, reversal, surprise. The trickster in most native traditions is essential to creation, to birth.Byrd Gibbens
Laughter. Best medicine ever. Laughter is infectious, too… so my honey laughs with me.
Then I have the wherewithal to find effective ways to do what I need and want to do, like getting on with setting up my computer and supporting the causes that matter to me. While keeping my good humor and peace of mind intact.
And that’s better than lemonade.
What do you do when lemons come your way? Do you feel good about how you regulate your emotions?
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