*For an audio version of this post click here.
For two days I kept replaying scenarios in my head. I knew how I could put her in her place without being aggressive, I knew what I had to say to crumble her fake sense of power over me. I had gone over all the things that proved I was the victim, proved I had done nothing but put out the fires she tried starting; i crossed all my Ts and dotted my Is. I imagined the approach to my conversation with management- professional, open, and discussing of facts that disproved every accusation. After all, it was not my choice to become the bull’s eye for someone’s hatred. I was angry at many things, but mainly that poor attitudes like these are allowed in a workplace. Then I realized that I was giving her the power to steal my peace outside the office. She was sucking the fun and energy away from my vacation. Actually, I was giving her past actions the power to do so.
It is so hard to stop replaying an event that has hurt us or made us angry. We think about all the things we could say, the things we could do, and prepare a reply to the “potential attack” that might come next time. It is easy to keep fuelling the fire, and so incredibly hard to just let the anger go. But! At some point we have to decide that enough is enough! One of my favourite reminders is that “holding on to anger is like holding a hot coal, it only burns you”; let go!
The minute I realized I was letting her ruin my vacation, I decided that I would no longer give in to the devil-game of blame and victimization. I was not going to waste my time on negative thoughts and emotions, or imagining potential scenarios in my head. Was it easy? Heck no. I had to remind myself many times to walk away from a certain thought process or conversation that was going to bring me back to feeling like an angry victim. But it was effective in restoring some of my peace and joy.
The following six steps are what it took for me to be able to think of work (and her) without my blood pressure rising. And guess what? It wasn’t until I completed step 6 that everything clicked!
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
1. Stop the replay
Stop replaying the situation (or your future responses) in your head.The more you allow your mind to fester in the situation, the more your emotions get consumed in the event. If there is something you wish to say, write it down so you address it at a later time when your emotions have settled, and move forward to an activity. Reliving the event that made you angry and obsessing over what you could have said differently will only make you more angry and miserable. Leave the drama of the past out of your present and future. Steer your thoughts away from the negativity!
2. Stop the gossip
Boy, when I am angry and I need to vent! However, it is one thing to vent about the exact scenario, and another to add trash talk to it and turn venting into gossip. The minute we start speaking ill of the person we are angry at to feel better about ourselves, is the minute we sink to their level. Choose to express your thoughts in a way that will not throw gas on an already open fire; choose the high road. This also means that you should be selective of who you vent to. Some personalities love drama and will encourage your anger instead of settling it down. Instead, share your frustrations with someone who is willing to understand both sides of a situation and give you wise council on how you can approach the matter.
*Side note: sometimes it is helpful to understand a person’s attitude through a bit of psychology. This allows us to see the situation through their eyes, and can aid in finding a better approach to the matter.
Q: What is it that you are triggering in them (ie. insecurities leading to their need to control you or feel above you? do they feel belittled and are speaking louder than you the only way they know how?)
3. Keep praying
When I am really angry, the last thing I want to do is pray something positive into the situation, or pray for the individual that hurt me! It is this big internal battle between my flesh and my spirit, and I cannot confidently say that my spirit wins every time… Yet, when I do give in and pray peace over my emotions and wisdom over my mind to handle a situation, I feel soo much better! Prayer is our most powerful (and least used) tool! Prayer places the situation in the trusted hands of God and out of our angry hearts. It does not mean everything will be solved and peachy, but it does lift the burden and anger off our shoulders. Imagine when you were a kid and got hurt or angry, did you not feel better after telling your parents what had happened? There is a sense of support and comfort in laying a situation down into God’s hands and knowing you do not have to face it alone.The best thing you can do is let go and let God. The more you allow your spirit to over power your flesh, the wiser you will be when approaching these types of situations. It is easy to yell or tear someone down, but when the flesh wins, no one else does.
4. Keep laying it down
Saying a quick prayer is helpful, but it does not always bring resolution to our hurting emotions. I have learned (through much experience) that sometimes you will find yourself playing hot potato with the anger. Give it to God, take it back, give it back to God, take it back again.. you are human, and this is a rather normal reaction. Years ago I recall being angry at the parents of a friend and, no joke, I literally had to hand over my anger to God and speak forgiveness at least 10 times a day.. FOR A YEAR AND A BIT! Your emotions matter, so when the anger or hurt comes back do not stuff it down and ignore it. Instead, address it and give it back to God. It is a mental battle that can only be overcome with consistency. If it takes laying it down 10 times a minute, then lay it down 10 times a minute. You will find the less power you give this anger, the more peace you will find in the situation. The bonus? This is what helps us walk out of depression as the deeper we burrow our minds in our pain, the more likely we are to enter different states of depression.
5. Do your part
In an earlier post I spoke about ways to deal with office drama. My belief is that conflict resolution is always best and it should be your number one approach when possible. However, conflict resolution is not always attainable, especially when involved parties want nothing to do with resolution and everything to do with dramatic blowups. Don’t forget to do your part. Whether that looks like talking to a manager, going out of your way to write/speak and apology for your part of the despite, or keeping certain thoughts to yourself during confrontation, you have to do your part in the situation. It is one thing to pray for God to change the situation, but how effective is a prayer if you are not doing your part in walking out the change you are requesting? I would love to stir the pot and bring change to the culture that runs my current workplace, but that is not a freedom I have been given. I have been asked to follow protocols, navigate the turbulent waters, and be mindful of my approach to attacks aimed at me. Is it how I would like to mange the situation? Heck no, but God (and my current boss) have asked me to take the higher road, be an example through my character and behaviour, and let management address what they feel necessary, how they feel necessary. Some days I hate it, but boy is it building good character in me!
The most important step is also the hardest. I won’t lie, I forgot about this step until the thought trickled in on day two of my anger. When we continue to forgive we remove the power anger has over us. Situations will not always be fair, and you will not always get a chance to voice your side of the story, and we have to accept that. That is life. You will never move on from a situation if you do not let the person go and stop holding anger and resentment towards them. Forgiveness is not about saying what was done to you was okay, it is saying you choose to extend the same grace God has extended to you, and walking away from the situation without the need to prove your side or get your revenge.
These steps may not be the complete solution to your dilemma, but if they can help you regain control of your mind and emotions, then they are worth a try! Currently I am continuing to work through them on a daily basis. You are not alone!
What are some of your approaches to stopping the replay of a situation? Let me know in a comment below.