Aagh! I had a hard one this week. I had to make a clear choice to practice compassion over anger, and it was a challenge I can tell you.
I have had an ongoing difficult relationship with the landlord of the flat I moved into 6 weeks ago. I won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say that they are bad enough for me to be moving out again this weekend (packing up the whole house for a 2nd time). I can’t get out of there soon enough.
When I received a ridiculously rude email from my landlord who used words that were designed to provoke me and use his authority to threaten me it made me SO mad. My first response was to react, tell him exactly what I thought of him, but something in me knew this wasn’t going to help the situation. Luckily I listened to the inner voice (I have been working on this for a while!). I stood back and gave it some time. I mulled it over in my mind. I had to wait until the anger dissipated. I had to ascertain what felt like the right way to respond that ensured I was in alignment with my truth and not reacting to his reality. Knee-jerk reaction is easy but having the wisdom to reflect and give something space is less so. Yet in that space the power and intensity of the situation evaporates.
I work with enough people to know that every single person has their own difficulties going on. Most people are living out their lives dealing with high levels of stress and pressure, which as well as having a direct impact on their whole body also affects the chemical balance making behaviour and reasoning altar.
I reread his inflammatory email and saw clearly that in fact he must be suffering. These are not the words of someone acting from a good place. In one brief email he had taken the relationship between us from bad to extreme (no going back possible), whist taking no responsibility for his actions or landlord obligations.
With his suffering in mind I chose compassion. I replied to his email with kind words that I really did mean. In doing so (without yet knowing what the outcome will be because this is not what motivated me) I feel good. I know I have spoken from a place of kindness and that my words, whether they dissipate the negative situation between us or not is un-important. What it has done is taken away the effect of his words on me and given me the opportunity to continue to practice one of the Brahmiviharas, the Buddhist principle of Metta.