It’s easy enough to say. I’ve heard versions of it all my life. “Take it easy.” “Ah, Maija don’t be like that.” “Just lighten up.”
There is an earnestness to my personality. I am very literal. My initial reaction in almost any given situation is to fix, correct or set right. It sometimes takes precious seconds even to catch irony or detect humour in someone’s delivery.
Part of what I want to do with the blog is to find the lightness in myself. While righteous indignation is usually my first response I have to work at the lightness part. It’s important because as humans we usually always respond more to the way the message is delivered than to the contents of the message itself.
The righteousness indignation is what the Buddhists might call my emotional hook. It’s when I care too much, not about the outcome, but rather the injustice I perceive. I climb up on my soapbox and have at it.
How do we lighten up? Those precious seconds are the key, I think. I laughed out loud once reading a book by David Richo. He talked about a couple’s conflict that could develop over forgetting the milk. He describes four possibilities.
1) A saintly figure would not have any emotional reaction, understanding that forgetting is a human failing and we all deserve forgiveness.
2) Then there are those who are emotionally hooked in that they do react internally. But perhaps recognize it in themselves and don’t unleash the experience on others.
3) There are those who do become hooked, do share the joy but realize that perhaps they are over-reacting in the middle of the tirade, and hopefully are able to modify their approach.
And finally, those who never realize that there was anything wrong with using forgotten milk to trigger World War III.
We all live along this emotional sliding scale. Some days we catch ourselves, some days we don’t. Emotional reactions aren’t usually helpful and we could imagine them as waves. A wave is a distortion. When the peak of your wave meets someone else’s wave, they combine and get bigger. Taking the few seconds, or few minutes may mean that your reaction creates a trough that will absorb their wave and neutralize it. That gives both of you the chance to lighten up.