The first time I heard this quote, it was my sister who said it. She was telling a story about mentioning this quote to someone who was bitching about something or another and nothing had ever sounded so true to me.

“If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.”

I looked it up so that I could quote it properly and it turns out it’s from a TV show that I’ve never seen… lol. Apparently, it was on a show called Justified and spoken by the character Raylan Givens. The show author’s name is Elmore Leonard, so credit where credit is due. Great quote, super applicable. Short, sweet, and to the point. I’ve never had anyone misunderstand it and I’ve been using it for years now.

I was the asshole lately. There was a lot of background noise in my life that was causing a lot of strife and instead of transforming the anger that I was feeling, I pretended not to be angry and got caught up being snappy, over-reactive, and nonstop irritable. I knew I was in trouble when I started having PMS symptoms on cycle day 9. It was way too early for those and that is always a sign that intense emotions are starting to control your life. (Chinese medicine makes the world make sense… AGAIN!)

I sat up and took notice when I realized that I couldn’t walk down stairs without holding onto my chest because I was in pain. It was that or sports bras every day and I despise sports bras. The 5 steps between the waiting room and the treatment rooms in my office were torture.

Chinese medicine says that all emotions are okay as long as you can transform them, move through them. If they get stuck, you pretend they don’t exist, you ignore them, you repress, suppress, or minimize in any way, they can wreak havoc in your body.

 

Well, my body was already screaming. But, how the hell do you transform emotions?

 

There are a few methods, but when it comes to anger, this is what I’ve seen be the most successful. When anger comes up, it’s because your boundaries have been invaded. It can be because someone else pushed too hard, it can be because you opened the drawbridge because you wanted to be ‘nice’. Sometimes your boundaries are being overstepped and sometimes you’re overstepping them yourself (and then blaming other people).

Either way, that shit got in and made you uncomfortable in your own fort. Anger isn’t a bad thing, we need to know when our borders have been crossed. We would never expect a mama bear to ignore the fact that her cubs were in danger. She uses anger in this situation to scare off the invader and protect her family. If she herself is in danger, she uses the same technique. But when it comes to us humans, we tend to say that anger is a ‘bad’ or negative emotion and I call bullshit.

We need to protect ourselves as much as any other animal – and often we need to go through an invasion to learn where our boundaries are and how to fortify them.

 

So, if you find yourself angry all the time, I want you to do an exercise that I like to call “Nasty Bits”.

 

Take out some paper, or a fresh computer document. Write out everything that is bothering you – to the people that are bothering you (YOU ARE NOT TO SEND THIS OUT.. THIS IS FOR YOUR EYES ONLY). Do NOT hold back. Let out all the nasty bits. Get gross. Say things you’d never say in real life. Spew blame like you’re losing your lunch. Get that shit out.

Once to start to feel a little relief or you’re starting to feel like you’re going too far, you know you’ve done a great job and you can stop for today. Leave the document alone for 24 hours.

When you come back to it, read it as if you didn’t write it. Put on your curiosity glasses. Look at what you really wrote and summarize in statements that show you where your boundary was crossed.

For example

I can’t believe he was late again today and didn’t even apologize. So f’ing selfish doesn’t he realize that people count on him to be on time?!??!

Turns into:

I allowed someone to be late and I adjusted when I really didn’t want to. I need to have clear rules about lateness that I hold to consistently. I’m going to be frustrated sometimes that it changes my plans but when I allow myself to be walked over, it just proves to make me mad and doesn’t help either of us.

The key here is: “and I adjusted when I really didn’t want to.” This is a choice, your choice. It sometimes feels in these moments as if someone forces you to make these decisions, but at the end of the day, you have to own them.

Or:

Why the F does she lie all the time? Does she think I can’t read right through it? It’s so frustrating to be treated like an idiot and it’s so disrespectful, she really needs to get her shit together.

Turns into:

I believe in being honest and integrity. I don’t have to maintain relationships with people who don’t feel the same way. Her lies don’t reflect on me as a person, they reflect on her as a person. I’ll reduce my contact to protect myself.

The key here is: “I don’t have to maintain relationships with people who don’t feel the same way”. This is a choice. If you make the choice to continue the relationship because you feel like it would be mean otherwise, that is Your Choice.

Repeating the Nasty Bits exercise often leads to you being able to transform situations on the fly and reduce your need to stew in anger until you’re boiling. If you can see which bit is your responsibility and which bit you can let go of because it has nothing to do with you, you might still be disappointed in someone, but it’ll probably not last as long.

If you do this often and you realize that someone is breaking your boundaries over and over again the same way, and you’re angry and angrier every time, the only thing you can change is how you respond and react in the situation. If you don’t know which part belongs to you, you can’t do that because you’re stuck in the blame cycle (which is totally useless and serves no one) and waiting for the other person to change their behavior.

 

The thing is: If you aren’t giving them the information that they need to know they crossed a boundary, you aren’t giving them the opportunity to correct behavior.

 

And if you’re sick of giving opportunities to correct behavior, then it’s time to change the relationship. This means you may have to end a relationship and deal with the fact that this act leaves you vulnerable for judgment. And that’s scary. I totally suck at this but ya know, they say those who can’t do.. teach. 🙂

If you had to judge yourself on a scale of 1-10, how good are you at keeping your boundaries protected?

XOXO
C

caitdonovan.com blog post being a witch in 2018

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