Exercise #2: ForgivingI loved Anne's response to this one, she sent this to me on Tuesday:
Next time someone or something hits one of your hot buttons, let the anger wash over you for about ten seconds. Then step back, try to analyze why the experience made you mad, and make a conscious decision to forgive the person and get on with your life.
I already have a good example of this one... Tonight Jer is setting up the tv room. (We moved furniture around yesterday and now he's rewiring all the speakers and computer and stuff.) I went down to see how things were going, and after helping him move the tv back in, I saw there wasn't much else for me to do. So I turned the floor lamp on in the big room (not sure what we're calling it now... the stove room? playroom?) and turned off the overhead lights. (Thanks for the compliment on those. We were very proud of ourselves for picking them out in under 30 minutes--quite the feat for a pair of ditherers like ourselves.) I figured that way he could still see as he moved things back into the tv room, but we would only have one bulb on instead of four. We have a long-standing argument about lights: I was always taught to turn lights off when you leave a room. Jer apparently was not. He points out that we use compact flourescents so it's not a big deal for our power bill, and that when he has lights on in half the house it's because he's using all those rooms (at the same time...). Aaaaaanyway, he got upset with me and demanded that I turn the overhead lights back on in the room he wasn't in so that he could see to wire up the tv. I usually would take the opportunity to point out my views on saving power, but I kept my mouth shut and just closed the door (loudly) and came upstairs. Then I read your email and analyzed my "hot button". And I realized that the only reason I get so upset about having all the lights on is that I was taught it was "wrong" or "bad". I do think it's wasteful, but we are doing our part to use low-energy lights, and if it makes Jer happy, what's the big deal?One of my favorite quotes came from this chapter.
So I forgave him. And then I finished going through my messages. One of them was the sweetest email I think I've ever gotten. Jer doesn't send me email very often, and when he does, they're almost always articles to read or things he wants to buy. But this time he bought me a song. A song that made him think of me. I cried all the way through it. I really do love that guy. :-) It's the little things, isn't it?
I remember one fight my husband and I had years ago in which he yelled, "You know we're going to stay married,so we might as well work this out now!" That was just unexpected enough to make me laugh, but it was oh so true. Since we were clearly going to end up forgiving each other at some point, it made the most sense to just do it right then.That made me laugh as well, and it really did change my perspective on forgiving someone I was angry with.
I'll be totally honest and say I did not do this exercise this week. I was trying to pay attention, and there were never any moments that I felt angry at anyone but myself. Now that's not to say I didn't get after my children for hurting each other or interrupting my conversation for the 20th time or singing the same line of a song for 30 minutes straight. But I felt that there was nothing to forgive this week. Maybe I'm not understanding the situations I was in clearly enough, but I'll keep this in mind over time, and try to remember when I'm feeling angry to pay attention to why I'm feeling what I'm feeling and forgive the person I am dealing with.
Preview for next week: Exercise #3: Valuing Moms