Perhaps it’s the Italian in me, perhaps I drank too much coffee in my youth, but I’ve been known to slam a door or two. When I became a mother and suddenly realized there were 3 chubby, wide-eyed faces staring up at me as I modeled anger management practices, I knew that had to stop. Yikes. My door slamming days were over.
That’s why I’ll forever be grateful to the fellow Al-Anon member who shared his philosophy of ‘reacting’ vs ‘responding’ when life turns up the pressure. The simple difference between the two is that a ‘reaction’ is emotional and a ‘response’ presumes some mixture of emotion and intelligence. My Al-Anon friend talked of ‘taking a beat’ to quiet the emotions and let the brain be heard.
So I learned to use my intellect in response to my emotions. Big or little, any situation can be diffused when you use this skill. I mastered the process just getting
through the mornings as a single mom when my kids were little. Any day of the
week you could find me running late for work, with a 6 year old having a tantrum, the school bus pulling-up, dirty dishes all over the kitchen. And wait. What’s that? Yup, a run in my stocking. Lots of temptation to slam.
Then in the nick of time, thanks to my Al-Anon friend, I would become aware of this internal monologue in my head: “Whoa, whoa, there’s that feeling again. What is that? frustration? anger? fear? Yup, something is going to fly. I need a door, a dish, a remote control, anything! . . . . Wait. Wait. Breathe. Breathe. No good comes of destruction. Let me think for a second.”
If this worked right, miracle of miracles, my head would begin to clear and calm would prevail. I was free to soothe the tantrum, change the stockings, and simply leave the kitchen a wreck until the day was done.
A harmonious balance occurs when intellect meets emotion. Taking a beat instead of slamming a door allows a lovely rhythm to unfold.