In case you never noticed, we humans find ourselves sheathed in organic receptacles. Often, it is a less than ideal situation for communicating our true thoughts and feelings to others. Because of this construction flaw, more often than not, we send unintended, confusing, and often pain-inducing messages to those around us.
The most difficult people to “read” are those who claim to be religious. That may be why your fight or flight mechanism triggers when someone states with unequivocal certitude, “I am a good Christian.” If the term “Christian” does not apply to you, feel free to substitute any other religion in its place.
It is difficult to decipher the intent of religious folk because they send mixed signals. Their lips spout one thing while their body language and actions prove they lie. As is the case with any human interaction, mixed messages result in misunderstanding, which leads to anger and other problems.
A lady of our acquaintance spent decades coping with the censure of some of her in-laws. At family gatherings, one particular lady sat across the room with arms crossed, lips compressed, watching her with disapproval.
Our friend envisioned dumping a bucket of ice water on the glaring woman. Then one day, the unhappy lady had an epiphany. Allowing another person’s opinion to undermine her self-confidence was unacceptable. “I’m an amazing person, and if someone doesn’t like me, it is their loss,” the woman declared. After that day, the relative’s frowns and condemning glances no longer held power over our friend.
This lady must confess before she retired, the daily grind of driving to and from work caused her to utter some less than proper words. Even though the verbal lashings and judgments directed at other drivers were likely justified, responding with such venom was not ladylike.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of behaving like a lady or a gentleman, we can tell you with certainty that speaking in tongues (unrelated to religion) is not considered an acceptable form of communication among snooty folk.
If you are not guilty of losing your composure in traffic, you are amazing and potentially a saint.
Do not laugh. Self-control is a learned behavior. It is far more natural for us to lash out at folks who displease, hurt, or annoy us.
Oddly enough, this writer’s post-retirement reaction to traffic situations is calmer since The Project began. If a driver exhibits reckless and stupid behavior, her response is less visceral than in the past. Instead of questioning the parentage of another driver, she laughs. “Go ahead. Be stupid. And I hope you get a ticket.” The last comment is a residue of being human. Sorry, kids. At this point in the transformation experiment, perfection is not my reality as yet.
It is a sad fact that family and those closest to us have the power to inflict the most pain, sometimes to a devastating degree. In the past, this writer’s automatic response to such events was anger. Then, she would create scenarios of the perfect payback to the one who wronged her.
“When the opportunity arises, I will tell them off. They will be sorry they ever messed with me.”
If you have never considered retaliation, then once again, you are headed for sainthood.
After a recent volcanic eruption on this writer’s part, she noticed how upset she had become while contemplating sweet revenge. Her heart rate increased. Her head hurt. Suddenly she realized how much her rage and desire for reprisal hurt her instead of the object of her rage.
That is how The Project began. Thinking about past temper eruptions, she realized her response to perceived wrongs gave the other person power. In all likelihood, the person who ignited her anger and desire for revenge was unaware of the wreckage left in their wake.
Her newfound epiphany was not a magic wand transforming her into a suddenly serene person. However, when the victim urge hits, her internal project manager interrupts the volcanic eruption before she hurts her soul or her health.
Revenge may be sweet, but The Project aims to tame the mercurial beast within.