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Explorations and Reflections

on awakening the true self 

  • Writer's pictureMick Scott

Oof. Another Lesson at the Beach

Last week I wrote about being with family and boiling with anger at the beach. Well, something else happened later in the week that turned into an even more powerful lesson for me.

We were in the car with my 15-year-old who’s learning how to drive. I said something to him about a notification on the dashboard. Quite surprisingly, he got frustrated with me and expressed it! I then got frustrated with him and expressed that too!

What the heck?! It was a simple statement and he flipped out, seemingly for no reason!

My wife diffused him/us, and he continued driving us home.

I held onto that one for a day or so - really thinking it was his fault, and not wanting to be vulnerable with him and share the source of my frustration.

I shared it with him anyway.

It's tough to get the first words out sometimes. Despite all my training in how to have authentic and vulnerable conversations, it still takes something! And I stumbled through the conversation at first.

I told him I felt hurt by his getting upset with me.

You see, for every hot and fiery secondary emotion we feel - anger, frustration, etc. - there’s a vulnerable emotion behind it.

I then made my first apology to him - for taking his anger personally and getting upset right back at him.

He appreciated my apology, and he apologized for being hurtful too. He said he got frustrated because it seems like I don’t trust him to be able to do things.

Oof. I can see why he would have that experience.

So I made my second apology - for often nagging him unnecessarily.

Here’s where we got to: we both recognized and expressed our hurt feelings (primary emotions) that were underneath our frustration (second emotion). Then we both took responsibility for the roles we each played in causing the underlying hurt for the other.

Taking responsibility isn't a burden. It's an opportunity, and it's an invitation to others to look for ways they can be responsible too.

Reconnection and growth is why I look back with gratitude on challenging situations like this. Turning problems into opportunities. Otherwise, they remain 'problems' or moments to feel regret, shame, or anger over.

There’s an epilogue to this story:

For almost 20 years, I’ve been intentionally on a path of transformation and growth in being 100% responsible for my life and my ability to live a great life no matter the circumstances. And yet…

I realized at the beach last week that I’ve been being lazy in how I interact with my family lately. I haven’t been listening to my wife’s feedback or my kids’ feedback about me - I’ve been seeing it as their judgments, their stuff. And while it is their judgments and their stuff…

There’s always gold to mine in what people communicate to me. I haven’t been mining the gold with my family in their feedback toward me though - I’ve been being lazy, righteous, and a victim.

It’s time to level-up.

Much Love. ❤️

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