What do I do when something affects me? I write it off my chest. This is one of these stories.
It all began with a cat and two dogs. Yes, the dogs chased the cat away. The cat has been gone now for four days and the situation brought a little unrest to our home. Let me explain further. We are guests at my in-laws, the cat belongs to my sister-in-law. This morning, my mother-in-law explained to my husband that he needed to call his sister and tell her that our dogs had chased the cat away and that we hadn’t seen her in a few days. I overheard the conversation, immediately turned around and snapped: “You don’t know that! Maybe the cat left and got run over by a car. Who knows that the reason was the presence of our dogs?”
As soon as the words left my mouth I felt this sense of heaviness come over me. Was that really me who said it and especially in that way? Yes, it was and I had to deal with the consequences. First, I received an equally emotional lecture from my mother-in-law stating that the cat had survived 13 years and several coyotes in the neighborhood and that it was very unlikely for her to get fatally hurt just days after our arrival. Second, my husband told me that he agreed one hundred percent with his mother. Here you go, digest that!
Being the person who I am, I took my cup of tea, retreated to a quiet corner of the house and observed my thoughts for a while. Wow – it was like rush hour in New York City or better the final round in a fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Mike Tyson. “You should go back and apologize! I can’t believe you acted that way. What the heck were you thinking spitting those harsh words out of your mouth?” was followed by “No way, you spoke the truth! Who knows what really happened to the cat. Stand your position and keep your stronghold up.” You get the picture. It was the perfect portrayal of the angel and the devil sitting on each shoulder having a good old time with one another. How should I ever manage to stop their fiery chit-chat?
I suppose it was out of pure selfishness that I needed to turn these troubling circumstances around right away; I wanted to get rid of the heaviness that still filled my heart. The right thing, I decided, was to go to my mother-in-law and apologize. After all, I was truly sorry for the way I had conducted myself. So I did. I knocked at her door, asked to come in, and confessed my guilt. She hugged me and thanked me for retracting. All was good. Was it really?
The morning went on as usual. The children palavered, my husband made breakfast and I left to take a shower. There, I had quiet time to think some more. For some reason for me the situation was not quite resolved yet. Why did I feel the need to speak up for the dogs? Why was I still feeling this in my bones? I wanted to dig deep and find the root of why I had exploded earlier. And what better way to conduct this search than by observing the ego.
“The ego is our self-image, not our true self. It is characterized by labels, masks, images, and judgements. The true self is the field of possibilities, creativity, intentions, and power. We can go beyond the ego through self-awareness – awareness of our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and speech.” (Deepak Chopra)
It truly felt like something inside myself had acted completely removed and changed from who I really wanted to be. A comment from my husband, who said that I had ‘defensive tendencies’ didn’t necessarily help, as it wanted me to just shout back at him “Well, who doesn’t? No one is perfect.” I chose to be quiet and create awareness around the situation, my behavior, and pose the big question on myself “How is the true me? Who do I want to be?”
This made me realize once again that I am in true control. No, I could not change the happenings of the morning, but I was free to choose demeanor from now forward. My awareness had removed the power from the ego and handed the steering wheel back to me. I was no longer a puppet of my self-pride. As I came to that understanding, I found myself in another predicament. How would I deal with the shame that came over me now? I felt horrible that I wasn’t able to control myself before the initial incident. Meditating for years and studying self-observation techniques, I truly should have known and acted better. There was remorse and humility. I didn’t want to be ‘that’ person.
Finally, I started crying. The stored up heaviness left my body as I shed tears of repentance on my mother-in-law’s shoulder. She responded in a gentle and humbling way as she told me that I was quite strong saying the hardest word to ever cross our lips: “Sorry!”
P.S. Just imagine all of us would work on creating awareness when connecting with other people. How much more nurturing, kind, and forgiving could this world be?