Have you ever been driven to tears of frustration, talking to someone who simply isn’t hearing you? So annoyed by poor customer service that you can hardly speak?
I don’t often cry. But today I cried tears of pure frustration over something as simple as a telephone call and two different understandings of the same situation. I said one thing, she heard something else. [I sound calm and rational now; mid-call I would have said something very different.]
How It Felt
I became so angry and upset, I couldn’t speak.
And it absolutely, totally, completely looked like the person I spoke with was causing that feeling. In my head, there were all sorts of meaning attached to the words, timing, and tone of the way she spoke to me. I felt she was rude, dismissive, unpleasant, discriminatory, unprofessional. I believed what she said and how she said it meant something about her, and something about me.
I hung up, full of righteous indignation… I started to think that if I’d spoken more clearly, or slowly, or kindly, or something, maybe the call would have been different…Then I started to think that if she’d been nicer, I’d have been able to handle the situation better… Exhausting, right?
Strangely though, even if you investigated every cell of her body (I’m advocating non-destructive testing, not violence, I promise), you would not find a single atom of secret transmitter allowing her to send particular feelings my way. It’s simply not possible.
Hard as it seemed to me, she’s made of exactly the same stuff as me. She’s alive in exactly the same way as me. The differences are in how that life expresses in each of us, each moment. We have way more in common than I wanted to acknowledge.
What it Means
I could tell you all the details, but already it feels more like a bad dream than anything substantial. When the whispers of the dream fade, what is left?
Firstly, a practical consideration, that looked central to the issue being discussed, but is actually easily resolved.
Secondly, a case of (to me) unacceptable customer service. With the heat taken out of it, I can address that politely, calmly and hopefully successfully.
Yes, and still a slightly shaken up feeling, but that doesn’t seem so important, any more. The way she behaved and I behaved came down to what seemed real for us in the moment.
I’m sure you recognise the feeling of being driven to tears, rage or despair. It seems obvious that a circumstance, object or person (even yourself) needs to change for you to be okay.
Truth is, no one can drive you to tears of frustration. It’s an illusion.
When it feels like someone else is causing our feelings, it looks like that’s where the power lies.
How would life look to you, in the light of this one simple fact: feelings transcend circumstance?