Since I talk about reflective writing all the time, I thought I would share what I wrote so you could see it in action:
Yesterday, my husband and I were in the grocery store. I won’t name which one, but I am very proud to say that I recently did a motivational speech at one of their corporate events. Anyway, weaving our way through the aisles grabbing items for our list, we had made it to the paper aisle (tissue, plates, toilet paper, paper towels). I looked down and noticed that the toilet paper we normally get was not there, and I said to my husband, “Oh man – they switched it on us.” A gentleman, or I’d rather just call him a man because he certainly did not act like a gentleman, started chuckling. At first I thought he was chuckling along with us because he had experienced the same thing – a store not having the product that you expected. However, as he proceeded to walk near the end of the aisle and go around the corner, his chuckling turned into a roaring laugh and he said loudly to himself, “it’s all the same!” in a tone that implied “you f’ing idiots.”
Because I’ve done lots of work on overcoming simply reacting and instead responding to situations through reflective journaling, I have been able to become a third-person observer to my thoughts. Here is the process my thoughts went through. First, the initial human response: Wow! What an a-hole! How dare he judge us – he had no idea what I was talking about – we actually wanted the toilet paper that was a smaller roll and only two high in the package instead of three high, otherwise it wouldn’t fit in our storage closet. I need to go explain this to him so he’ll realize his mistake and that he’s being an arrogant a-hole. Reflecting on my initial response, I don’t beat myself up for allowing my thoughts to go down that road because, guess what?, I’m human! Instead, I am very proud of myself that I stopped my internal dialogue right there. I quickly ran through a number of scenarios to potentially explain his behavior (which is the typical 2nd response I have) and then decided that none of them mattered. My learning in this situation is two-fold: 1. not to take others’ behavior personally because it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them and the demons they are fighting and 2. being judgey is also human and something I need to be aware of when judging others (even when I’m doing it internally and not externally like our fellow shopper).
What’s the learning in the situation? First, I will understand that when I am feeling judged by another that I will go through a natural reaction of getting offended and that I will make sure it is an internal reaction because it’s not worth getting into it with another person because they are fighting their own demons. I’ll give myself time to work through it mentally and remind myself that their issue has nothing to do with me. Second, the next time I find myself being judgey about someone’s characteristics or behavior, I am going to remind myself how it feels to be judged and remember that, much like that fellow shopper in aisle 20, I don’t have all the information to even be in a position to judge.
This, my friends, is essentially the reflective writing process, which helped me understand the event and my learning from it – a description of the event, what I learned, and what I am going to do about it. This whole process took less than 15 minutes of my day and now my brain is able to let the situation go (in other words, I won’t be mulling over this all day) and, I am better able to respond the next time this happens rather than react, letting my emotions control me instead of the other way around.
Isn’t a little reflective writing worth less than 15 minutes of your day?