There is a tool I have learned in our couples group that switches out the word ‘you’ to the word ‘I. So it would go something like this, “You need to be more respectful of how you treat me.” This would be switched to, “I need to be more respectful of how I treat me.” When this shift is made away from the judgment of ‘you’ to the ownership of ‘I’, a core truth is revealed.
This happened to me today. I was very angry about a situation with a distant relative. It didn’t involve me directly, but it was affecting someone I care about. When I went out to water the garden, I ended up taking down several volunteer and overgrown blackberry vines. It was a great release to uproot them with all my might. I grunted, I groaned, I bled, I cried. Finally, I heard the voices in my head telling this distant relative off…man, I just let him have it. The rant had been going on for some time, but I just hadn’t noticed it. I distracted myself with the pulling of the berry vines. When the awareness came, so did the question, “What are you so angry about?” The answers came in all sorts of “he should,” “he shouldn’t,” and “how could he,” along with some strong advise.
Then I substituted the word ‘he” for the word ‘I’ and had a profound awareness. About 10% of what I was actually feeling was my anger towards that person for involving my loved one. And the remaining 90% of my feelings were about my fears about my own situation. It was amazing! When I pointed the finger back at myself, I could see why I had such a strong reaction to the situation. Now I am in a much better state of mind to do some constructive thinking about resolving my own fears, instead of being in a distracted loop by pointing fingers at someone else.
Too bad the berry vines had to take the brunt of my anger as I processed all of this. I could have pulled them up with a lot more grace, gratitude, and love :(