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You are not a Jedi
No, Katie, you are not a Jedi.
I received the following email from Katie.
I’ve changed details (like her real name and any other identifying information).
I’m having a difficult time with the vice-president at my organization right now. He’s always so critical of my work, and sometimes he’s even mean.
I’ve hit a wall. I don’t know how to deal with him. I thought you might have some words of wisdom. I mean, I’ve tried praying for him and remembering that no one is really bad, but I’m really struggling.
Katie and I had done some spiritual direction sessions about a year ago.I texted to see if it would be alright for me to call her. We spoke.
Here is the summary:
Katie: How can I keep from getting angry?
Rabbi Brian: You are not a Jedi, Katie.
Ask Rabbi B.
If I were to have a syndicated column called, “Ask Rabbi B,” the response to her question might be written up like this;
You are not alone. Many people carry in their minds these notions:
If I were spiritual enough, I wouldn’t be upset and frustrated by somebody else
If I were more like the Dalai Lama, I wouldn’t take the hatred that somebody’s putting out on me
But, here’s the thing: You’re NOT the Dalai Lama, and you’re NOT a Jedi.
You’re a human being. A regular human being. And if you aren’t getting frustrated regularly, you are depressed!
People get Angry. That’s just a fact. We all do.
I spent years pretending that I didn’t. I was miserable. We all get angry.
The Bible tells us that even Moses and Jesus got out of control angry.
(Let that sink in for a while.)
People get angry.
There is nothing wrong with anger. Anger protects us. Anger helps us.
However, there is something wrong with getting angry at the wrong person, at the wrong time, in the wrong amount, and for the wrong reasons. (I suggest after you get angry that you do an assessment if you hit all four marks, and if you didn’t, that you apologize where you need to.)
Let me reiterate: Getting yelled at will hurt you because you’re a human being, because you’re alive. Sentient means that you are sensing. And, as long as you’re sensing, you’re going to be hurt. Katie, please remember that you are not a Jedi. You are not to not have a reaction. You are human. You are human. You are human. You are a beautiful child of God, however that phrase makes sense to you. You are precious. And when you get yelled at, of course you should have a reaction to it.
Finally, Katie, with regard to your boss, I have two simple words: “fuck him.”
Nobody deserves to be yelled at. Nobody thrives in shame. A boss who is shaming you is not helping you to be the best you can be.
I thank you for asking.
Christine Poratch did a study at Vanderbilt University in which people were gathered as a group to take a cognitive test.
In the control groups, that is exactly what happens
In the other groups, an accomplish to the researchers joins the room late and the presenter yells at the tardy stooge.
Finding: Those who did not witness the verbal abuse routinely performed 60 percent better than the people who hadn’t witnessed the verbal abuse.
If you are the one who’s getting yelled at, I imagine it is even more difficult to think clearly and do well, let alone think positive thoughts about the person yelling at you.
- When somebody comes at you with anger, it’s hard not to respond
- When you say, “If only I were spiritual enough, this wouldn’t affect me” you add an extra ass-kicking to yourself that you don’t need
- If you’re being verbally abused, somehow it is your fault?
It possible to build up to be more patient, kind, forbearing.
I believe we can all become the type of person who acts like a Jedi Dalai Lamas. We can all practice Spiritual Aikido and move out of the way of someone who is being unkind and critical.
But, that’s going to take some work.
If you want to be more patient, practice patience and acceptance, practice with a delayed flight or traffic. Practice with little things.
Once you have learned to keep a calm demeanor when the waitress takes an inordinately long time to return to your table with drinks, you might be able to level up to something a little bit more difficult, like losing your phone. When you’ve learned to not get bent out of shape when you witness a colleague being scolded, then you can begin to work on not getting upset when you are scolded.
If you need some help, check out the tools on my website or ask me for help… rB
Rabbi Brian Zachary MayerI’m glad you are here. Really. I know this is just a website. But, if I think of it as my home on the web, I want you to feel at home. Let me know if I can be of help. And, if you haven’t signed up for the newsletter, let me suggest that you do. It’s pretty awesome – something spiritual in your in-box 40 / 52 weeks a year.