I was very blessed that a few months before the world shut down with COVID, I was able to go on a cruise with my husband and a close friend to the Western Caribbean. One of the ports of call was Costa Maya which is a gateway so many of the sites with the ancient Mayan ruins. This had always been on my wish list so needless to say, I was full of excitement.
After we got off the boat, we arranged with a local taxi company to drop us off at one of sites and pick us up at a certain time. The ruins were everything I imagined and more. Before us were temples almost 3000 years old. We were totally transfixed by their scale and beauty. After a few hours of exploration, we hopped on our taxi back to the port but with a new driver.
When we got to the port, the driver asked us for payment for the trip which was about $15. We were confused because we were sure we had paid round trip up front initially. We protested informing the driver that the ride was already paid for and he assured us that it was not. This went back and forth for a few minutes until the manager stepped to confirm the initial payment was not the full amount. At this stage we had to board the boat and reluctantly we paid. We were not happy – we were angry.
That evening as we sat down for a beautiful meal, what do you think the discussion was? The amazing ruins we had the privilege to experience? Of course not. It was the $15 we felt we were wrongly charged for. Thankfully my husband pulled out his phone and began to show us the photos from earlier in the day. With that, the tone shifted and the rest of the evening was focused on where it should have been all along.
It is remarkable how easily anger can derail us.
One of the functions of anger is to focus our attention on the person or thing that is getting in the way of a goal. Indeed, the facial expression of anger is a visual representation of this. The eyebrows are pulled down and the upper and lower eye lids are pulled up and tightened as the eyes focus on the object of their anger.
There are many ways of dealing with anger but in this instance, it was focusing on the bigger picture that helped us put things in context and let go. If a camera is zoomed, sometimes the picture becomes blurry and we miss everything that is in the surrounding area. Its only when you zoom out that you can achieve better focus and take in the surrounding things you might have missed.
For this week’s EQ workout, I prepared a set of questions to help you explore these common occurrences in our lives at work and home.
What is the description of the situation that derailed you?
Where is focus of your attention?
Try and zoom out from your present focus. Is there anything about the context of the situation that you are not considering?
You may also like this YouTube video I recently recorded which explores how to manage your anger triggers.