It was a stressful day. I got home, switched my gear, and went for a run. This doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I just like to eat. Who’s with me?! But this time I figured I’d go for a “rog” (a hybrid of a run and jog/ let’s be real). After my rog, I trampled onto my front lawn, took a breather, and started responding back to an email.
Ok, so follow along with me here. I’m just minding my own business, sending over the itinerary to Pastor Carl Lentz’s assistant (highlight of the day), when I look up and see a couple walking their two dogs one way and another guy on his bike with his dog coming the other way. And just like that, the couple’s one dog wiggled out of his harness and jetted across the street towards the bike-dude’s dog! Before everyone knew it, we were watching a full on dog-on-dog wrestling match. Bare teeth showing, claws exposed, including an owner attempting to beat the other dog off his dog. I mean, it was total beast-mode! And this wasn’t a fluffy chihuahua attacking a little peekapoo over spilled kibble. These were both BIGGG doggies. Forget about lady and the tramp. There was no spaghetti and meatballs. No love. This was like watching Mike Tyson bite off Holyfield’s ear again! What a mess.
I promise I’m going somewhere with this. I was once a super angry person. I’m not saying that there aren’t things that make me angry anymore. That’s not true. But there were a lot of things, growing up, that constructed my combustable attitude tower. I dealt with rejection. I had a lot of negative words spoken into my life that I allowed to dorm in my mind. I was pretty bitter, and so tired of being hurt, misunderstood, walked over, and not given grace in the moments when I needed it most.
Being transparent, it took me years to renew my thinking. It look me years to release forgiveness. It took me years to harness my emotions.
Again, I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I’m a heck of a lot better at it now and hope to progress even more in this area.
Be thankful for what you have. Instead of being angry over what you’re losing or what’s not going your way, stop and think about what you are thankful for. If you’re offended by someone, be thankful for that one other friend that is by your side. If you’re angry about a situation that is going wrong, think about a time when something went right. If the construction worker didn’t fix your pipes right and now you have a leak, be thankful you have a home to fix (that didn’t happen to me this week or anything). Think about the things that you do have.
What’s the worst that could happen? Sometimes, when I am just ticked, my judgment is clouded. I just need a little perspective and that happens after I cool down. I find facing “the worst that can happen,” and not ignoring it, helps me. Don’t ignore your feelings like they don’t matter or like you’re not experiencing them! What’s the worst that can happen? I have to move in with my parents for the time being. I will lose my home. That person will think of me differently. My kid might make the wrong decision. I might lose that friendship. I might be lonely at first. Cool. I’m not minimizing these statements. They are big deals. But by facing the worst, you see you’re still alive, still kicking, and there is still a shot at hope. For me – I say: Now that that’s off my chest, I can pray those frustrations and worries over to God so he can take the pressure and give me wisdom on my next move.
If you don’t like it, change it. I know, you’re pissed. But if you don’t like the outcome, change it. You can only blame other people for making you feel a certain way for so long. I’ve been there! I’m not saying to be reckless in your decision making. I’m a solid believer of listening and thinking before speaking (cool down before you make knee-jerk reactions and silly blanket statements that wind up hurting people). But sometimes I think we stay in our junk so long we become comfortable with our anger, and don’t realize that we actually have the choice to change it; to get ourselves out of something that we know is going to make us angry in the end. For instance, you know that person at the party is going to belittle and insult you again. Maybe make the choice not to go? You know your coworker is going to do that thing that you hate the most. Why not sit down with them and express how you feel concisely and kindly? They probably don’t even know they are offending you. You want to help someone, but you’re worried they are going to take advantage of you. Why not set up some boundaries and time frames you’re comfortable with?
Harness your anger, Mr. Miyagi. Dealing with anger does not equal the absence of anger. There are things that are going to frustrate you. Back to my crazy dog story. I have the potential to be that dog. Minus the claws. My nails are short. Here I am walking along when something ruffles my feathers and hurts me. I’m harnessed. I’m guided. I’m protected. But I allow my emotions to wrestle their way out from that. Then my one slip (which seems like temporarily relief) spirals me out of control to spew my anger venom. Realize the damage that unresolved anger can cause and make small choices not to go there. Learn from your mistakes, find the underlying cause, and take note of what ticks you off. You’re less likely to escalate when you make yourself aware of your triggers.
Also, on that note, don’t allow the labels someone once put on you to dictate the decisions you make and the way you act in the future. Someone once said to me, “Pretty on the outside but ugly on the inside.” Do you know how long that stuck with me?! It’s crazy how that ONE statement spoken to me… ONE TIME… drifts back into my mind when I am most vulnerable, almost tempting me to cave and just say…. “yeah, you’re probably right. Same old G.” NO! Not right! Haha. Not the same old Gina. We can revert back to our old ways, but let’s make the choice not to.
Clean up after yourself. Ok, you lost your crap. You didn’t want it to happen but it did. We will make mistakes. But make sure when you do, you clean up the mess you left. Deal with it and don’t allow too much time to pass. Apologize to your kids, spouse, etc. Give clarification, admit what you did wrong, and dictate what you will do next time to make it better. Because we don’t want to stay where we are, right? Be quick to take responsibility and say “I’m sorry for the way I acted.” A humble heart committed to remedying the future is a wonderful, healing thing.