The other day I was on my way to attend a yoga class. I know, right? My practice is mostly on my own, at home these days. But lately I’ve been giving myself the gift of going to class — and I’ve really been enjoying it.
But the other day, I made the mistake of making a phone call on my way to class. I chatted with a family member about their Christmas (because I wasn’t with them this year) and heard a story about another family member behaving poorly — making some snarky and hurtful comments.
As I was listening to the story, I found myself quickly on my Self-Righteous Soapbox ™. I started into an ever-lengthening list of all the reasons why I despise this person, who I proceeded to call an “idiot” and a “jerk.”
I was just getting started when the person I was talking to had to hop off the phone to deal with something else.
So, naturally, I continued the conversation in my head.
Yeah, I Went There
As this inner dramalogue unfolded, I rehearsed what I would have said if I’d been there. Let’s just say that the curse words just about outweighed the non-curse words.
I also felt the narrowing of my eyes as I imagined the look I would have given this person, and I also heard the condescencion dripping off my tone (yes, even though I was just talking silently to myself). I’m nothing if not contemptuous of this person — and that’s just in my head.
(I’m a real gem — I know.)
In addition, I also wistfully daydreamed of a day and time when I will never have to see this person again in my life. Never. EVER!
Oh, I could. not. wait.
Where Am I Going?
And then, just as I was about to inwardly rehash all the other things this person has done that have infuriated me over the years, I stopped and realized what I was doing.
That’s right — yoga!
OMG. Who am I? Who shows up at their yoga class in a fit of rage?!
Well, I know from experience that plenty of people come to yoga in a fit of rage. And I also know that’s okay — that it’s good and healthy to feel anger when it comes up.
But I also knew that I needed to check myself before I wrecked myself. Because I’d gone way beyond anger, which is a temporary feeling (as are all of them) and into the land of no-return: Anna’s Self Righteous Land.
So, TGFY (thank goodness for yoga), I began to check in with my body to see what was up. Predictably, I felt that my heartbeat was faster than normal. My throat felt tight and my belly was clenched even tighter. I was gripping the steering wheel with the anger I wanted to direct towards the Object of My Self Righteousness. And, yeah, I was not present at all.
And lest I need to remind you, I was driving. Yes, I’ve driven this route a million times, but still — autopilot is probably not the best way to drive.
Part of me still really, really wanted to go off on the Person Who Wronged Me (and not even me, but someone else I love) in my head. I was giving them a great what-for, after all.
But another part of me knew that I’d felt the feeling and now I could move on. I was angry, I’d processed, and now I was just stuck in rehearsing, dramatizing and other ways of just being in it.
And I really didn’t want that person and my desire to Show Them Who’s Boss (at least in my own head) to have that kind of power over me.
So I continued to check in. I internally patted myself on the back for feeling anger. And then I gently reminded myself that feelings are temporary and that it would be okay to move onto another one.
I’d say this whole process took about 10 minutes — 8 of them were my inner tirade, and 2 of them were turning the tide. By this time, I’d arrived, parked and was walking into class. After a few more minutes, I’d taken off my shoes, put my bag away, checked in and set up my stuff.
As I settled onto my mat, I noticed that I was in yoga mode: heartbeat regular, throat and belly relaxed, regular body temperature. For just a moment, the desire to rant came back up, but I was able to just notice it and let it go.
And then start to move.