A work colleague shared her anger and frustration with me about an incident within her family overnight. She said a particular person had crossed a line with their behaviour, deeply upsetting my colleague and leaving her feeling that a bridge had been burned.
My colleague emphasised that she was the bigger bear and that there was no turning back. It was ‘Flame on.’
I said that it is often better to build bridges than burn them and that in situations like this it is always better to seek first to understand before being understood. (Thank you Stephen Covey).
Her reply was, ‘I didn’t start this and I didn’t do anything wrong.’
Acknowledging this I said that I didn’t think or infer that she had done anything right or wrong. I then asked her what was her end game, how did she see this playing out.
She asked me what I meant and I asked her it could be worth just contemplating the possibility of another way. ‘No way, I’m the bigger bear, she has burned that bridge.’
I said that there were two ways of being the bigger bear. Physically is one way, but often bigger bears have bigger scars from the more battles they have fought. The other way is to walk the higher path so you can pass by each other on a bridge of respect rather than blowing it up behind you. I said, ‘You carry that anger around like a canoe on your back. The usefulness of a canoe is in getting from one island to another. Once you’ve reached the shoreline, there’s no need to lug it to the campsite, let it go.’
Instantly her demeanour changed, it was that noticeable.
I said, ‘put your shields down and just go and talk, listen, care and then you may both be bigger bears, but with fewer scars.’
Tears welled up in her eyes and a smile came over her face.
My colleague just messaged me this; "2 bears are paddling the same canoe. Thank you."
This little exchange made me realise that unlike Martial Arts, we can practically use Paxtial Arts skills everyday in various situations. It all begins by giving ourselves permission to just consider something different. But that’s why we are all here right?