Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Worthiness Wednesday #86: stay complex
So I got a call today from the lady who owned the first motel I stayed in during my stay in Adelaide last weekend. She was pretty unhappy and mostly used the call as an opportunity to chastise me for lodging a complaint using the official customer service email address publicised by her franchise owner.
I listened to everything she had to say, did not correct her when it appeared that her memory of our conversation differed from mine, apologised that her feelings were hurt, gave her my credit card details when requested (she didn't want my money!) and, at the end of the call, thanked her for sharing her insights and experience.
I saw then that I had a choice.
To be honest, this is the sort of experience that has the capacity to bring me down and ruin my day. I know now that this sort of experience pushes all my deeply seated good girl, people pleasing, conflict avoiding tendencies.
I could see this start to happen today... then I remembered something else.
I sat down and made a list of all the things that could be said to be true about the incident:
* on the day, I acted in haste, out of anxiety
* on the day, she seemed defensive and annoyed
* our memories of our conversation on this day differed considerably
* I hadn't even realised she was the owner
* I didn't even think to argue the case with her in person, let alone ask for a refund
* she certainly didn't offer one, and she could not guarantee me a different room
* I did say that I would put it in writing but apparently she didn't catch that
* she found my behaviour on the day confusing and annoying
* I was fortunate to be receiving a refund
* it was pretty inappropriate for her to "tell me off" for lodging a valid concern through official channels
* we are both doing our best in a pretty sticky circumstance
* I'm sorry that a past client flouted the house rules and, in effect, damaged her property
* I'm sorry that she felt that my behaviour signalled a lack of respect for her authority, experience and benevolence ("My silver hair should have been a signal to you!")
* I really think that obvious "No Smoking" signage in the room may have helped obviate the entire experience
* I'm also sorry that by refunding my money she will lose out financially
* it wasn't really her fault but she could have responded better
* it wasn't my fault either, even though my behaviour wasn't stellar
Dwelling on all this stuff may make me seem over-sensitive and more than a little bit precious. After all, this was a minuscule encounter in the scheme of things and it actually ended in my favour.
And what's an "off" afternoon every now and again?
The truth is this: if not tended to, all those disregarded "off" afternoons here and there will tend to accumulate. Then they build and build until they become disproportionate and I become overwhelmed and anxious about the sheer breadth and enormity of what they seem to represent.
So today, I decided that I could live with the knowledge that all of the things I wrote on my list -- and many more besides -- could be considered true. And that good, bad or ugly, they were what they were. And the sky didn't fall in. And, actually, my afternoon got a lot better.
And in doing this, I realised that I was brave and strong enough to live with complexity.
This week, I invite you to stay open to a small and seemingly inconsequential experience that leaves you unsettled or uncomfortable. Rather than sweeping it under the "no big deal" carpet, sit with it for a while. Tease it out. Unpack it. Think of everything you possibly can. Scribble it all down (preferably accompanied by a cup of fancy tea in your favourite china cup, with a couple of squares of artisan dark chocolate).
how much bigger you are than all of it, individually and combined.
how strong your heart is, and how much it really can hold.
how much more spacious your mind feels, knowing that you can tackle the little things as they come up rather than letting them snowball into something monstrous.
My lovely Naturopath recently sent me a tweet sharing some words of wisdom she'd gleaned at a workshop held by a well known and highly respected Melbourne psychotherapist. "Don't change", he'd said, "And stay complex."