There were several instances at work later in the day where, even in the recent past, I would have likely reacted over-emotionally and caused myself and others unneeded distress. I used DBT skills today in a new way to intervene. I call it my “Push My Buttons” experiment. I allowed myself to feel the discomfort that criticism brought up without losing myself in the emotion and taking the situation personally.
My boss asked me to work on something with him. He said he would then give it to a manager to ask his opinion. The manager ended up delegating the review of my work to one of his employees – a person with whom I’ve had conflicts in the past. He has difficulty with controlling his emotions and has yelled and even thrown things in the office. This person, I’ll call him Jack, got a hold of my papers and marked them up tremendously with criticism and changes.
In the past, when he has done things like this, I have become highly emotional and reactive due to taking his actions personally and have sent off attacking emails to him while copying my boss. I’ve learned that doing this makes me feel worse. I lose self-respect, come off as unprofessional to others, and it further strains the relationship with this person that I have to see several days a week.
This time, I took a deep breath and shook my head. Classic Jake. His boss then told me that Jake’s mother was in the hospital today getting an operation and he was “losing it” and likely took it out on my work. I actually felt bad for him and considered that he may have been acting on his emotions. I called upon my compassion. To any anger that did arise, I used the DBT skill of trying to just be a little bit kind. I simply said, “That’s got to be rough.”
His boss walked out of the room, and I looked over the “corrections.” There were some good suggestions, but mostly nit-picky things that weren’t all that important. I decided to not take it personally. I told my boss what happened, and he reassured me that the employee shouldn’t have even been involved with those papers and not to worry.
In this instance, and in another today, this thought went through my mind as I took a deep breath: “Is it more important to me to be right or to have peace right now?” By doing this, I was able to LET IT GO.
In a Summary of 15 Styles of Distorted Thinking in my DBT binder, I found a listing that I could apply this to. (Sorry, no source is listed on this page.):
“Being Right: You are continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable, and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness.”
It goes on to say that “active listening” is the key to overcoming the need to always be right. So, I just listened, nodded, and appreciated the pieces of information that I could effectively use to improve things and myself. The section goes on to suggest, “Focus on what you can learn from the other person’s opinion.”
Instead of making it all about me and my sometimes inability to tolerate making mistakes or not getting things perfect, I let it go.
The need to constantly be right means you are exerting energy to continuously prove that you are not wrong — that you couldn’t have possibly made a mistake….that you are perfect and have no room for improvement.
That was my old way of thinking. The new me chooses Peace.
Thank you for reading.