Teachers, Anger, Wisdom

[Exercise: Tell me about someone who was a true teacher for you.]

I don’t believe in chance encounters. I believe that we draw people and situations to ourselves that reflect our inner state of being, and if we pay attention, with an open and curious mind, we can learn a lot about ourselves. This is going to sound corny, but everyone I encounter is my teacher, and I treat everything that happens to me—the people I meet, my feelings, my thoughts, and my reactions—as a series of events that can be interpreted symbolically to reveal information about myself.

To give you an example, the other day I decided to leave the office around 3 o’clock to grab a coffee to help me get through the remaining workday. It had been a long week and I was feeling drained. Several things were uncharacteristic: my leaving the office outside the lunch hour, using coffee as an excuse to restore my energy, and the woman who told me to “Be safe.” as I departed the elevator. Usually people say, “Bye.,” “See ya later.” or “Have a good day.” But “Be safe?” Her words and the concerned look on her face felt strange and had a lingering effect.

On my way to the coffee shop I pulled out quickly in front of a car after realizing I was in the wrong lane. There was plenty of room, but the driver behind me was irate and I could see him yelling at me from inside his car. He pulled into the turn lane next to me and in my own fit of anger I shot him the finger as I drove by. This enraged him enough to leave his turn lane and pull up close behind my car to try and intimidate me. He tailed my car for several minutes and eventually turned off. With a racing heart, I thought about the woman’s reminder to be safe.

I don’t typically react brashly when I encounter someone with a short fuse, especially when driving, but on this particular day, I was tired and not in the mood to take shit from anyone. Upon reflection, I believe this person was reflecting my own impatience and anger. Anger typically masks fear. Earlier that day I delivered a presentation to an executive at work. As an introvert who relies heavily on intuition, I don’t always feel like I’m good at articulating what I think and feel so presenting to someone higher up in our organization brings up feelings of insecurity for me.

This experience was about learning to value myself, my talents, my ways of knowing. Learning to feel comfortable being myself around others who see, feel, and think differently. Sometimes I worry that if I don’t say just the right thing at the right time, I will be seen as someone who doesn’t know, who doesn’t deserve recognition, who doesn’t qualify for advancement. These fears are based on illusory thinking, I know, so during these moments of fear, I have to remember to reconnect with the part of me that is wise, all-knowing—the wise woman who sits at the core of my being.