Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Boiling Over

See that pot boiling over? See the wooden spoon?

A few months ago, on Pinterest (of course), I saw a tip about putting a wooden spoon across the top of a pot to keep it from boiling over. Apparently, the spoon prevents the heat from building up at the center of the pot and below the pot by absorbing some of the heat, hence preventing it from boiling over. The spoon will also pop the bubbles and keep it from boiling over quickly.I haven't tried it yet but I had a moment today where the visual immediately came to mind.

See, the pot is me and the spoon is a good co-worker/friend that helped calm me and keep me from losing my job temper. The work day started with a very condescending e-mail. My friend saw it before I did and she had to take a walk. I am generally pretty zen. Little upsets me after surviving the world of BigLaw--although I'm not there anymore so query whether I "survived" or whether I recovered/healed/lived on, etc. But, I digress.

I got the e-mail and was so mad I had to close (ok, slam) the door for a moment. I prepared to write back an equally biting response but was able to vent to my friend before pressing send. I calmed down enough to open my door and later went to the person who wrote the e-mail to tell him I was offended at the tone and that he was out of line. He re-read the e-mail and later apologized, explaining that it wasn't his intent to be mean but rather to offer helpful advice. Case closed.

It could have gone so badly if I went with my gut response. I find myself again appreciating the importance of an outlet. It could be a friend. It could be writing a response to get it out and then throwing it away. It could be going on a walk. The point is that it is important to find a calming tactic to avoid making a bad situation worse. I could have ranted and raved but it wouldn't have fixed anything. Taking some time to (1) check whether I was overreacting and (2) vent to a friend calmed me down enough to respond with grace.

I was assertive and stood up for myself but I wasn't an irrational Tasmanian Devil style screaming banshee. Not that I ever am...but you get the point. I was at a rolling boil but there was a spoon to absorb some of the heat, preventing me from boiling over. Thank God for friends and the ability to take a moment before reacting to the BS life drops in your lap.

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