I've always heard that the utmost point of inner peace, and maturity as been achieved when a person can remain calm even in the face of adversity.
I wasn't exactly sure what that meant. I mean, I know what the words mean. I know what the sentence means. But, what I was unsure of, what I halfway admitted to myself was that I was not clear on what that would look like unfolding in real time. How would that feel, and how would I know when I have reached that level?
The other day I was talking to someone who was becoming more, and more worked up by the minute. They were angry, and were ranting at me. The first few exchanges I answered, but by the third or fourth sentence it became clear that this person was just angry about the situation, and taking it out on me. I responded by telling them that their rant is just a projection of their own insecurities about this situation, and has nothing to do with me, nor is it even about me. Of course, this didn't stop them, but I stopped responding. I didn't defend my position. I didn't feel much of anything besides annoyance. I didn't think I needed to get them to see my side, and how unreasonable they were being. I knew they wouldn't. Not at that moment. The person they were wrestling with in that moment wasn't me, but was their emotional self.
Later that day I realized that I easily stepped aside, and out of a heated exchange where I was being attacked without so much as feeling anything beyond a minor annoyance at that moment. I didn't feel the strong need to defend myself, or to win. My ego didn't get in my way. I didn't let my feelings get hurt over it. It happened around me, but not to me. I remained calm in the face of what was a very volatile situation.
This was the moment I have been building towards for years. This was the culmination of mindfulness, positive thinking (In a realistic sense. I still thought this person was being a jackass, but their jackassery, was not about me.) and practicing the ability to calm myself in situations that make my anxiety rise. There was no magical formula, or quick trick. It was literally years of practice honing the skill of being calm, and confident.
That night I was faced with a similar challenge where I left a comment on a huge parenting page, and as usual there is always that one or two moms that feel they need to instigate a fight. Why these women swarm these parenting pages, I do not know. I have theories, though. I should have known that this is a place where I should not spend my time, because even though the page itself seems nice, and I like the content the members are just nasty. Many of them just sit like vultures waiting for someone to say something that they can swoop in, and pick apart. I know this, so I am always very, very nervous when I leave a comment on these types of pages, even the most neutral comment. I try to be sure that I am wording everything just perfectly, so that no one can come in, and pick my sentences apart later, and put meaning into what I say where there is none. That should have been my first clue that I am in spending my time somewhere I shouldn't be. Anyway, it wasn't, so I left my comment. Mostly positive, but you know me, and my not going with the cult-like group of everything that specific movement is about (implicitly). Those, I want to pick a fight with an outsider so I can feel superior moms, can feel that. Oh, they can! Most feedback was positive. I got a lot of likes, and one who tried to goad me into possibly badmouthing breastfeeding, and I did not take that bait, since that isn't what the subject matter was about. It wasn't even within 100 miles. Then along came one of those mean, nasty moms. Her comment was dripping with snark, and rudeness. The me from a few years ago would have felt very anxious, and embarrassed. I would have been very upset about her comment toward me.
I just asked her way she has to be so snarky, and nasty when my comment contained nothing of the sort, and reminded her that she is the reason parenting pages get such a bad rap. There really wasn't a need to respond the way she did.
I didn't go back, and read what was written after it. I didn't go point by point defending myself. To do so would be giving her the benefit of the doubt that her premise about my intentions were true. They weren't. I know it, and she knows it. She's just being mean, because she can, and I don't have time for that. I have so much else to be doing with my emotions, and with my time than arguing with someone about what my intentions, and what things I appreciate.
I think that's what life has taught me, anyway. I just can't go around giving away all of my emotional energy to everyone, and every situation. I have to care about myself enough to feel like my own energy is worth guarding. I have to think enough of myself to know when something is really about me, and when it's really about the other person's perception being projected onto me. There's nothing I can do to defend myself against their own perceptions. When I can walk away from it without getting my feelings in a big tangled mess that's when I have attained the peace I have been after all my life.
And, it feels good.