Early in life I recognized two facts:
- I did not have a talent for cussing (quarreling and cursing). Since I never entered a match that I was bound to lose, I avoided the back and forth trading of barbs and curses.
- When angry, I lacked the time or patience to beat around the bush. When triggered, I got to the point physically, or I deemed my opponent unworthy of my time and energy and walked away to deal with more important things.
Whilst I tended to choose to walk away more often than not, at 17 years old I found myself in an altercation with a neighbour. Provoked, one too many times, I grabbed the man and attacked with the only thing in my hand, a steel fork. In the midst of my white-hot rage, something stopped me. I halted to find that I had cornered the man and had the fork pressed to his jugular. My red-hazed intent was to make him an example. In that moment, one thing crossed my mind: “If I continued on my current path, I was bound to end up in prison.” No one should have that much power over me or my life. I paused, looked the man up and down, said simply, “You’re not worth it.” and walked away. Shaken and stunned, he uttered not a word.
From that moment onwards, whenever I feel that anger beast rising up, I do three things:
- I mentally pause and take a deep breath. If I am truly pissed, I might start displaying physical signs of agitation in the struggle to rein in my temper.
- I ask myself any combination of the following three questions:
- Is this person worth giving away your power?
- Will the results of your explosion be worth it?
- What would Christ do?
- I change the tone of the conversation or pause or close the conversation.
- Changing the tone of the conversation can take the form of a distraction that is designed to reduce tension.
- Pausing the conversation can take the form of a request to discuss the matter at a later date. My implicit intent is that the matter can be further discussed when I am in a better frame of mind to discuss things rationally.
- Closing the conversation occurs when I realize there is no point is continuing the discussion.
It took sometime to get away from the mentality that I needed a visual demonstration of my dominance, physically or otherwise. In fact, at times I still struggle with it. However, I recognized that I didn’t need to prove to anyone but myself that I have won. Public perception or opinion carries little weight because I had the power to define what winning meant to me.
I chose to define wining as: Retaining my power and keeping my future and purpose in sight.
Choosing that definition does not mean that I’m a pushover. I am still willing and capable of fighting for what I believe is worth it but I changed my tactics. I choose how and when I will respond. My power lies in my choice.
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