How Long Will You Be Married?

To your emotions I mean….

St. Patricks Dayis over and so is the insistence on the tradition that-well let’s face

Managing emotions - Identifying feelings
Identifying emotions helps determine how long you will stay there.

it-only makes sense if you happen to appreciate being completely inebriated. I was in an Irish Pub in downtown Raleigh meeting (yes really)with a group of friends. Stacked beer barrels and the filthy floors lent the place an authentic feel. I was afraid to use the bathrooms but I could only hold out for so long. The corridor leading to the ominous depths beyond was lined with boxes and burly tattooed staff who unconvincingly apologized for the mess. The faint smell of dirty dish water did not dissuade me from accomplishing my mission. I made a beeline for the door labeled ‘ladies’ and as I pushed the door open, I was greeted by the most pained looking woman I had ever met.

“This is ridiculous…. I told them to clean the place three times…. I am reporting them to the sanitation department…..” So spectacular was she in her anger that I momentarily forgot why I was even there.

The lines on her face underlined the pain of having to find herself in a dirty place. She had her head bent facing the dirty floor and a big tissue on her hand to ensure her hand didn’t touch anything. She had brown curls that bounced with every word she managed to spit out emphasizing her point. Even though I too was amazed at the sanitary conditions of the outwardly nice looking restaurant, I was momentarily taken out of my experience and had no choice but to watch the performance by the woman.

So committed was she to her outrage that she didn’t even notice that she was actually still in the very place that was causing her discomfort. She had become married to her outrage. Not only was she married to how upset she was, she practically going on a honeymoon with her anger. I just couldn’t help but wonder just how long she was going to stay there.

I have come across people who have perfected the act of being outraged about things. Like the woman in the bathroom. Now, I was planning to get upset and in fact was just getting ready to assemble the emotions to express my disgust but the woman was way ahead of me. I realized in that moment that there was no way my anger could  out-anger her. It was just easier to watch the live outrage show. With an audience, the woman stepped up her performance. She just couldn’t believe the manager had not come to mop up the floor. She knew some important people who would shut down the restaurant. At this point nature demanded I leave the performance and I left her there with another captive audience who happened to enter the bathroom.

Every so often we find ourselves in a situation that evokes strong emotions. The emotions are so strong and they sweep us away in a strong tide. So tight is a hug from negative emotions, it’s practically impossible to disengage unless of course something breaks the wave. So seductive is this place that we try to stretch it out to experience it for as long as we can.When we feel wronged and we know we are right in how wronged we are, it’s easy to become married to that feeling. The question is, how long is too long? Only you can decide how long you want to stay there.

In the case of the woman, her performance was so beyond the reaction I had been planning to have-which was in the neighborhood of anger too-that for a moment, I was distracted from my own anger. I realized that if I stayed there a moment longer, I too would be caught up in her anger and we would have to ride the wave together towards the conclusion of which perhaps would have been to launch further complaints with the management. In any case, I hope she found a way to disengage from her anger. At some point, something must break the wave of negativity. Something else has to come to counter the emotion. It’s up to you how long you stay married to any particular emotion. Only you are responsible for what you experience and the next emotion is always handy, ready for use whenever it’s needed.



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