Several days ago, while talking with my mother on the telephone, I heard this soft thud outside my bedroom window. Although the bedroom windows were closed, the sound was audible, nonetheless. My upstairs neighbor – the one who resides in the apartment directly above mine – decided to throw couch, chair, and accompanying couch and chair cushions from the second floor balcony to the ground below.
My self-righteous indignation having kicked in, my immediate reaction was to go and straighten out my upstairs neighbor. After all, who would really be so thoughtless
stupid as to throw pieces of upholstered furniture from the second floor to the ground below? My next reaction after that was to phone the management office for the apartment complex, and inform them as to what had just happened. His/Her actions could have toppled my two flower boxes, which contained newly-planted flowers.
My Dear Mother, the ever-wise and ever-sane, stopped me from taking either of the above-named actions. I wasn’t processing the situation on the basis of logical thinking, but more on my emotions and initial impressions.
As I reflect on the situation, which at this point took place about two weeks ago, I wonder if my mother stopped me because she thought that the situation was inconsequential, or, because she thought I was just going to create problems for myself as a result, or, because it was both of the aforementioned.
Situations at school seem to manifest themselves in much the same way as the situation with the furniture. I am often driven by raw emotions and first impressions, rather than by logical thinking. While the situations at school are often more complex and more complicated, it seems that I am inclined to fight every battle – real or perceived, instead of picking the ones which will give me the greatest return for my emotional investment. Frustration and anger occupy a lot of space within a person, and if we lose perspective, the emotional costs can be very high.
I know that I won’t always have my Dear Mother around to pull me by the arm in order to hold be back and prevent me from doing something which I may later regret. So, how do I pull my own arm, and hold myself back? Perhaps instead of reacting by way of my verbal and non-verbal expression, I may choose to simply get up and leave the room instead, and take a break. I also need to do a more effective job of checking in with myself before taking action, since my emotions tend to be the prime determinant in whether I choose to act, and how.
Although I don’t agree with what my upstairs neighbor did – then or now – the situation provided an invaluable take-away: Not every situation warrants confrontation, or the expenditure of precious energy from heart, mind, and spirit.