Last week I got inflamed. I was angry about an injustice in my community and the fury was all consuming. A useful coaching question about nearly anything is: What did I learn? What did I learn from being inflamed about injustice?

The first thing I learned was to notice the signs of my anger. My right eyelid was twitching like crazy -- a sure sign of stress for me. My neck was uncomfortably tight, my shoulders ached, and I had serious butterflies in my stomach. The symptoms involving the neck and jaw are physical signs of anger. The stomach/solar plexus reactions indicate fear. I actually felt like Vesuvius just about to spew. That¡¦s not a pleasant feeling and far from healthy.

The next step was to articulate what was inflaming me. We had a family dinner in the midst of all the drama and as I was ranting about the situation to my daughter. My mother-in-law asked, ¡§Just what are you so angry about?¡¨ What a great question! I took a few deep breaths and focused on the angry feeling, and soon I could clearly articulate what was inflaming me.

I'm mad at _____ because he/she is doing ____. This affects me in the following way ____.

Unfortunately, it took me a few more days to do anything about the volcano action! Eventually, I thought to ask myself: What can I do to change things? Just feeling angry wasn¡¦t accomplishing anything but making me miserable.

I was reminded of this wonderful quote from Gandhi: Be the change you want to see in the world. In this case, the change I wanted to see was that people would cooperate with each other for the greater good of all. Taking that advice to heart, I realized that I needed to understand and cooperate with people rather than sitting around being furious and not taking action.

There's another appropriate adage here: The only person I can change is me. Since I can¡¦t change the person who inflamed me, my next step was to understand the dilemma from her point of view. What does she want, and why? Once I know that, I can respond rather than react. I can think about it, write about it, and talk to others about it, which widens the sphere of influence so that many people can brainstorm rather than gossip.

Can I change the course of action? Maybe I can't, especially if the source of my discontent is outside of my sphere of influence, such as in Washington. In such cases, I feel like an ineffective scarecrow, flapping in the wind while the crows continue to eat the corn. But that's another article for a different day.

In this case, however, I can have some influence over the course of action. I can use my responsibility (the ability to respond) in a creative and collaborative process that honors everyone. Next, I asked:

What can I do?

Once this became a collaborative effort, I asked:

What can you do?

From that perspective we can come up with some plans which, through trial and error, can eventually support everyone involved. I feel physical and psychic relief already!

© 2007, Jacqueline Hale

Author's Bio: 

About Jacquie Hale: Recently I realized that the reason I am here is to inspiring people to lead a life of purpose, fulfillment, and remain calm while doing it. I¡¦ve had a number of roles in my life, from medical technologist to massage therapist, from selling flowers from as a street vendor to technical writing for high tech companies like Microsoft and Sun Microsystems.

I¡¦ve gone from being a crazed, middle manager of a high tech training company to working at home with a reasonable schedule and three times the salary. I know it can be done. You can do it¡Xif you want to do it.

Here¡¦s the path of my careers. Notice how the high stress jobs are interspersed with stress relieving occupations. You can see that I finally got the hang of it. That was 12 years ago and life has been rich, rewarding, and interesting ever since.
Student „³ Medical Technologist „³ Clothing Designer and Sewing Instructor „³ Medical Technologist „³ Massage Therapist „³ Selling Flowers „³ Manager of Outpatient Clinic „³ Technical Writer „³ Manager of Instructional Design „³ Freelance Technical Writer/Instructional Designer „³ Natural Health Consultant „³ Life Coach „³ Author