“What the F**K! It is like the discussion I had and the agreement that followed are just worth nothing!”
Past summer I had a chat with a neighbor living on the other side of my back yard about the waste containers he placed in the alley, against the outside of our fence. They had to be removed for two reasons, the alley was going to be repaved and the general rule for the alley is that no containers or other objects should be placed there to prevent obstructions and leave room for fire fighters.
The neighbor at first tried to convince me that he should be allowed to place his containers because of his garden being so small. My reply was that if the owners association was going to allow that for him, it should allow all households using the alley to place their containers. This would result in not just three containers but potentially 48 containers! So, even though he had his containers in the alley for many years, it now is over. The owners association is, after the works on the pavement, applying strictly this rule of keeping the alley free.
With this all explained and discussed I was convinced we had an agreement and for many months the alley was as it was supposed to be, no containers or other objects. Until a few weeks ago. At first I could not believe my eyes. I do not use the alley very often as our garden has a front access too. My mind started racing and coming up with tons of inner discussions about how this could be the case. Is the man nuts, stubborn, or just arrogant? He has no right to do this in an alley he only has the right to cross as it is owned by my owners association and he’s not part of it! How does he dare to do so and what why does he think he has the exception to the rule. What makes him more special than all the other households using the alley? He is a teacher and all teachers are arrogant! I am going to tell him to take his containers away immediately. No, even better. I am going to put his containers in his front garden since he claims his back garden is too little for them.
“Wow! Slow down!” I had to tell myself. I was pissed. But why was I pissed? Why should I care about these containers that were there for years without me even noticing them? Exactly! My ego was hurt. I believed I convinced the man and had enough overweight to make clear to this person there was no exception to be made for him. Putting back these containers was as if he said to me personally: “I do not care for what you’ve told me, I am not taking you seriously and do whatever I like”. I interpreted this as a personal attack. Well, it is not personal… I can think that I am that important that my neighbor makes it personal and does this to tease me. But that is not the case. He already told me why he placed his containers in the alley in the first place, and now the summer season is approaching, he does not want them in his tiny garden. Bummer for my ego, but also a relief. If I do not take this as a personal attack it is also much easier to come up with practical actions to change this situation.
So, I am not going to move his containers to his front garden as a kind of vendetta, I will make sure he gets a letter from the owners association reminding him that no containers should be placed in the alley. Nothing personal, just the association asking to comply to the rules.
To reach this practical point I had to go through reactions and emotions. This delayed my actions and consumed energy and time I could have used to do much more practical things or even relaxing. What I learned here by observing my reactions and trigger points is that I need to forgive any ego triggered reaction in a comparable situation. This will assist me in processing my reactions and make sure I am properly identifying all possible dimensions that play a role in this kind of situations, up to patterns created in the past. I then will formulate and apply self correction on the identified points so I can stop repeating these patterns ultimately leading to changing myself in such a way that I will not react as I usually do but assess the situation and take immediate and practical actions.
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