According to Cesar Millan, every bad moment is an opportunity for rehabilitation.
He doesn’t panic when a dog lunges.
He doesn’t get angry when they try to bite.
He doesn’t give up when the dog snaps.
He simply sees the moment as an opportunity.
A moment to show the dog another choice. A different way of responding. A different way of being.
I could have used Cesar the other day.
No, I didn’t try to bite anyone.
But my past tried to bite me.
Brock and I signed up for a house fund registry which meant that a significant portion of our wedding gifts were in the form of money in a joint Paypal account. We had the agreement that all funds gifted would be applied towards the house with joint decisions. All good.
And then, one morning when I checked my email between classes, I see that $500 had been withdrawn from the account. The email didn’t tell me where the money went or what the intent was behind the transfer.
It just told me that money had been taken.
It just triggered panic in my gut.
I had to endure the entire day before I would have time to log in to Paypal to see the intended destination of the funds or to ask Brock about the transfer.
My past tried to tell me that this was a nefarious move on some level – either trying to hide money or deciding to move forward on a purchase without discussion.
My past made it a bad moment.
My present recognized it as an opportunity for rehabilitation.
In my former life, I would have a) found a way to call my husband right away and demand to know what was going on (see Assumptions) or b) let my panic and anger build through the day as I imagined all of the potential scenarios that could be unraveling.
But this was an opportunity to make a choice.
This was a chance to respond differently.
I started by relaxing. Telling myself repeatedly to take deep breaths to calm the panic in the gut (that would make a good band name:) ). I reminded myself that my response was from the past, triggered by my fears of being betrayed again. My reaction had nothing to do with Brock or the actual situation at hand. I decided to believe that everything was okay. But I also made the decision to check once I got home. Not with Brock, since it was really my problem, but with Paypal.
Trust but verify.
By the time I arrived home, I wasn’t panicked. I wasn’t angry.
I didn’t even run to my computer to log in to Paypal.
But I also didn’t avoid it either.
When I finally did look at the account, I was calm. Rational. Thinking with my present mind rather than with the alarmed mind of the past. I could see clearly and interpret the numbers.
The $500? It was moved into our joint savings account. The amount was set by Paypal’s limits.
I walked down the hall to where Brock was sitting at his computer, wrapped my arms around his shoulders.
“Thank you for starting to move the money into our savings.”
I never told him about my panic. That’s not his responsibility.
I’m the one who has to whisper my own life and see opportunity for rehabilitation in every bad moment.