Hayley Coates, writer, blogger, teacher,activist, freedom fighter, tea drinker with Thich Nat Hanh… is there anything this wonder woman can’t do? I had to do some serious A-grade grovelling to get her to write on my blog. Enjoy.
Every job has its perks, though some days I can’t recall a bloody one. Every job has its pitfalls too; tripe coming from people’s mouths, criticism, or dealing with incompetence gets us worked up. But not me! I’m supposed to be a peaceful, Zen-like warrior. So why was I getting emotional at work? How does one honour their feelings as well as grow a thick skin?
I was recently schooled by an eighty-two year old man. Not a random codger on the street, but peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. He did not come to my house for tea, though, that would have been lovely, I learnt about a famous analogy from one of his twenty – or – something books.</p>
It was ME all over.
Thich Nhat Hanh talks about anger, a lot. He describes anger as being ‘like a house on fire.’ What do we do when our house is on fire?
We chase the bastard who started it, of course!
We stay, and we put out the flames.
This very simple analogy is indicative of what many humans do. When we are upset, we focus on the person who upset us and ignore ourselves, our feelings and our bodies.
So I tried it. I waited until I got angry and instead of throwing things at the person who hurt me, I focussed inward and WHY I was actually hurting, came to the forefront.
Much of the time, I found that the anger had to do with stuff that I was carrying; a desire to be right, a desire to be thought of as perfect, a desire to look good and sometimes the antagonist was just upset about something that I had no control over.
So, I started to wonder; is developing a thick skin all about taking the focus off external factors? It would seem so. Looking internally is often the answer to a great many questions.
Secondly, I realised that people that don’t care what you think, are unattached to what you say. And that’s a good thing, if they can still take the criticism and implement it. Once again, Buddha was right; it’s all about finding the middle way.
Next time someone sets your house on fire, stay, put out the flames and see what comes up for you. You can always go after the arsonist later…but remember, when you do that, you leave your house unprotected.