After a massive fight with my father last night, my first reaction was to get on a flight and leave. But in the mess of negative emotions that have been triggered, I realize that there’s an opportunity here for me to evolve my communication and way of handling difficult people. Here is what I’ve learned:
Empathy – I am trying to take into account the major cultural differences between myself, a 32 year old Canadian born individual who was raised in a culture where women are taught to be independent, empowered and equal – compared to the background of my traditional Chinese father, who was raised in an environment where women were taught to be obedient, and praised for their beauty more than their brains. On this trip, our different cultures collided to say the least.
Emotion – The first thing I said to my father this morning was that I love him and am not angry, but need some space to decompress from the hurt that I felt from the mean words that were exchanged. Instead of taking off and having him worry about when I would come back, I made it clear that I would come back at a specific time so that we could have a conversation. I now know for future reference, if someone is angry and yelling, absolutely no good will come from trying to reason at that moment. Remove yourself immediately from the environment if possible (mine happened to be the hotel hallway until 3am) and do not engage until you and the person are back to a rational state of mind. This will save your cortisol levels from rising.
Equilibrium – One of the keys of allowing space to respect your emotions without letting them control you, is to find a way to get back to an equilibrium. The tactics will be different for everyone, but whether it’s doing a breathing exercise, calling a close confidant, or going for a walk, find your method(s) of calming yourself. For me, one of the first things I do is call one of my sisters (they get the lovely job of talking me through the ugly girl cry and excessive swearing). Then I call my friends (you know who you are). I will reach out to someone who makes me feel safe, someone who makes me laugh, and lastly, someone who is logical who can provide rational advice. I will then write as a way to process and next, find something beautiful to look at or listen to.
As I write this note at the cafe, I can feel myself getting back to equilibrium. Again, feeling grateful for my support system. Love you my dear friends.