“Have you been able to rebuild your acupuncture practice?”
I can feel my jaw clench just a smidge. Now, I’ve just had a conversation with this woman about my business and how I’ve been writing, speaking, and coaching on emotional resilience for about two years now. Yet, following her question, I see her looking at me with sympathetic eyes…they look patronizing. Again I say, “I stopped practicing acupuncture about a year ago and my coaching is—“
“That must be just so tough just starting a new business right now…such a struggle!” she says, cutting me off.
I can literally feel my face start to tingle. I know if I looked in the mirror I’d be seeing that nice rosey red! My next words come out a little chewed on since I’m almost grinding my teeth at this point. “My online coaching practice has been going extraordinarily well. It’s the keynote speaking that–”
“Well, if you or your family need anything,” she says over her shoulder as she gets back into her BMW, “please don’t be too proud to ask! Let everyone know they’re in my prayers!”
To be honest, I really don’t know if she said anything after the proud comment. My seething anger was creating so much of its own dialogue at this point, I couldn’t have heard God in a fire truck.
My mind is racing: “Can you believe this?! Who the hell does she think she is? Obviously she’s completely unaware and oblivious to other people’s feelings. Driving around in her high and mighty car [I don’t know what that means], with a checkbook to ‘help out’ anybody she perceives is in a lower financial situation than her… Truly! I mean, it just doesn’t make any sense. How does she know me so well that she knows just where to hit me? She must have been up for quite some time thinking of ways to ‘hook me’… She would have had to know when she’d run into me too, though? Hmmm…”
I remember similar thoughts (or panic) in my head when I started boxing. Fighters would come out and just exploit every weakness that I possibly had. This was amateur fighting, so there’s no “watching the film of the opponent” the night before. They would just know in “real time” after a few minutes in the ring where to hit me, repeatedly, to hurt me the most. Many new fighters wear their “tells” on their sleeves, and a good boxer can easily learn how to exploit a new boxer’s weaknesses. The problem is that this was an old woman in her late 70’s, and my guess is that she is not a really good boxer. In fact, I would have sincere doubts that she ever really boxed (this is an assumption, but I feel it’s a relatively safe one). So, if that is the case, I have to wonder how this elderly (but spry) woman was able to “lay me out” by hooking me emotionally in the center of the grocery store parking lot without really even knowing me!? The answer is simple:
I was hooking myself.
Here’s the thing: emotions (energy in motion) are created inside of us. How we think, feel, our behaviors, even our biochemistry (that 3rd slice of pizza you ate) all play a part in the creation of the energy called emotions within our body. If this seventy-plus year old fly weight is triggering something inside me (the way I feel or think about a particular situation in my life), the only person who has any control over whether or not I get or continue to be “hooked” by this is me.
Think about it: if she had asked me about my running, I wouldn’t have had even the slightest of problems. If she asked me how my son was doing in college, I would’ve told her about how difficult it was for him and anyone else who had to be home from college because of COVID, otherwise nada on the “emotion scale”. On top of that, I would have chalked her mentioning it up to being motivated by real concern. Say something that was new for me or something I was already a bit anxious about? My thoughts immediately go to: “She’s the grim reaper trying to get at my soul!” And I create different emotions running through my body.
Even though my coaching business is going very well, I’m nervous about how my speaking engagements will go in the future because it’s an “unknown”. I made the tough decision to leave my very good acupuncture practice and, after a fantastic 2019 speaking year, I have been uncertain how I will be able to shift to making real connections through virtual workshops and presentations. So, in reality, she was unknowingly throwing darts 🎯 at my emotions board and hit MY emotional bullseye.
We all get hooked at times. The trouble is, we often don’t see it as our issue. It usually feels like the other person is attacking us or trying to get us riled up in some way…or just plain being insensitive. But, when we take the time to step back into our corner (that quiet place in our heads where we can really examine what is going on for us), we are able to discover that it is our own fear, anxiety, or self-doubt that just got triggered. Moreover, the other person is typically blithely unaware that they have even hooked us!