Before we jump in you should know that today’s post has a bit of adult language.
So if you’re easily offended or uncomfortable with strong language, it’s best that you don’t keep reading.
And if not then let’s dive in.
Late last week I headed out to run a few errands. As I was walking towards my first stop, Petco, I felt someone following close behind me. This, of course, isn’t unusual in a crowded city like New York but something felt off.
So I stepped to the side to let this person pass. And he did while letting out a frustrated sigh. At that point, I thought I was walking too slowly, and this dude was in a hurry.
But then I noticed him passing me several times as I made my way to Petco. He kept turning around, coming back up behind and briskly walking past me.
And then out of nowhere, he stopped, turned around to face me and asked me the strangest question.
Here’s what happened next.
Guy – “Are you psychic?”
Me – I kept walking to ignore him.
Guy – “Are you psychic?” He repeated.
Me – I put my hand up, shook my head no and said, “No thank you.” I thought he was trying to sell me something as people often do on the streets of New York.
Guy – When I brushed aside his question he shouted “Whore!” and spit at me.
Me – Without thinking I went into defense mode looked right at him and shouted, “D*ck!”
Guy – “C*nt!” He yelled back.
Me – “D*ck!”
Guy – “C*nt!”
And we go back and forth like that until he turns the corner, spits again and storms into a Lululemon.
Eventually, I made it to Petco. And as I scanned the aisles for cat litter, I kept replaying what just happened in my head.
The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. I wasn’t mad at the freak show guy who was mental, but I was annoyed at myself for getting hooked and reacting to his drama in the first place.
Once the anger settled and I felt a bit more clear in the head, I asked myself this crucial question –
Where else in my life do I habitually get hooked (or triggered) and react to other people’s drama without giving it a second thought?
As I kept thinking I realized that the man on the street could’ve been any member of my family. My reaction to him both physically and mentally felt old, comfortable, and familiar. It was the same response I’ve had to my stepmom, my dad, my mom and other relatives who I habitually react to.
Although I was annoyed with myself for letting this random guy ruffle my feathers, as they say, I tried to see the gift in the moment. I tried to remember that any change starts with awareness which is followed by the willingness to change and explore our options.
I know that there’s much work to be done and I know there’s no such thing as overnight success especially when we’re talking about old patterns of behaviors and reactions that have deep roots in the dysfunction of our pasts.
But it doesn’t mean change is impossible; it says that we’re willing to try something new.
So if you can relate to what’s going on here and you want to try something new start by paying attention to the reactions you have to people and the world around you. And for those responses that hurt, or cause your mind to obsess or bring out the not-so-best in you wait for the drama to settle and then think about the last time you felt whatever you’re feeling right then and there. Ask yourself if the feeling is old and habitual. How familiar does the anger, sadness or obsessing feel?
If there’s a connection, you can make then make a note of that somewhere in your head or jot it down in a journal. The next time you’re in a similar situation notice your reaction and again make a note of it.
You’re not out to judge yourself or beat yourself up for what you said or didn’t say you’re merely building your awareness muscle. And as that muscle slowly gets stronger, you’ll create enough space for yourself to try something new.
Thanks for reading!
Until next Tuesday,