Taking Yourself to Court

I’ve locked myself out of my car (again). So, since I find myself with a ‘tinsy’ bit more time at the coffee shop than I should have, I thought this might be a good time to bring up one of my favorite movies (you are going to hear about a great many flicks if you’re liking my blog, so it may be worth watching a few), “Redbelt.” I realize it sounds like some kind of Kung-Fu, actionesque flick, but let me just say this: written and directed by David Mamet (if you are not privy to movie directors, his flicks are given considerably more ‘weight’ than “Fast and Furious 38.6”).  I find recalling the beginning of this flick most ‘helpful’ at times like this…when I’m getting ready to mentally give myself a beating for keys I can practically touch on the driver’s seat of my Subaru…if it weren’t for the glass of course.

The movie starts in a dojo, with a martial arts’ student holding a board with a spinning arrow on it (various body parts are drawn on the board). The spinning arrow comes to a stop, pointing at an ‘arm’. We see two martial arts students look at their instructor. “Tie him up” the instructor says, pointing at the one of the students, while he speaks loudly to the students sitting on mats.  “The hands are not the issue. The fight is the issue. The battle is the issue.  Who imposes the terms of the battle, controls the terms of the peace.” The students lean in eagerly, while the instructor points to the student with his arm tied tightly behind his back.  “You think he has a handicap?  No.  The other guy has a handicap ‘IF’ he cannot control himself.  You control yourself, you control him.”

Every time I’ve watched this scene (which is more than a few times), I’ve always felt it to be less about the martial arts’ students and their respective external fight between each other, and more about the battling voices in their minds. The two parts of ourselves that are always engaged in a constant struggle with one another.  The positive and negative voices inside our heads.  Which voice has the ‘arm’ tied behind it’s back, and which ‘sets the terms of the battle’ depends upon the situation.  Most likely if you have screwed up by locking your keys in the car (who would do such a thing?), the overly critical, self-chastising, voice gets to hold the megaphone, shouting words into your grey matter that ‘control’ your thoughts, leaving you feeling small, embarrassed, and ashamed of yourself

“How could you have been so stupid!? You don’t have time for this!  How about a punch card from the local Sunoco giving you a ‘get out of your locked car free on your tenth call for help’!”

The truth is, that voice gets to have its moment because we’re human. We ALL make mistakes.  Have setbacks.  Call ourselves into question.  Become emotionally upset with ourselves and beat ourselves up from time to time.  Feeling these emotions during questionable decisions or mistakes is natural. But, how we decide to handle our thoughts and emotions afterwards determines how long they get to stay.  When we allow the quick hit of harmful emotions after a mistake (anger, embarrassment, irritation, etc.) to linger past the moment they were created in, we can sometimes fall under a ‘Big Picture’ amnesia, only remembering the mistake we’ve made, and forgetting the wholeness of all of our experiences that define our reality — define us!

It would be great to be able to bring in positive self-talk at a time of a slip-up or blunder. A character witness of sorts that could high-light your other positive attributes… “the defendant may have, in fact, locked his keys the car, but he is AMAZING at juggling while riding a unicycle AND playing bocce at the local orphan’s fundraiser!”

Instead of bringing about more self-esteem, this kind of character witness feels more like an imposter presenting paper-thin evidence in a court where you are already emotionally compromised by an un-related event, and ‘under fire’ from your own internal prosecutor.

Your accusations of yourself need to be countered with cold, hard, relevant facts.

When a mistake that you’ve made quickly injects you with the venomous emotions of anxiety, embarrassment, and self-judgment, it becomes very important to find mental/emotional representation within yourself before a ‘lasting’ mental/emotional verdict can be made. An impartial voice that, though it cannot erase the error you made (nor should it, that would be falsifying evidence), could at least bring to light ALL the facts of your situation at present, helping you to develop a more realistic view of your current situation.

So, when you have just struck out and lost the game, missed an assignment at work, or locked your keys in the car (seems to ‘tie a hand behind my back’ pretty damn quick when this happens), bring yourself to court. Just the facts.  Hard evidence that will bring you back to your center, allowing for a ‘Bigger Picture’ to present itself.

Let’s me just swear myself in first, and take the stand…

Just the Facts, Mr. Bevacqui.

Is it true that your sleep last night was poor, and you only got about 6 hours total (I KNOW closer to 8 makes me less like a Zombie from “The Walking Dead”).

YES.

Even with less than adequate sleep, you had positive patient interactions, and you were able to get a good two-hour run in before the event in question?

YES.

Did you leave the keys in the car AFTER doing all these things — things that may have added to the fatigue from the night before?

YES.

Although you left your keys in the car, did you leave the car running?

NO.

Is it also true that you haven’t locked your keys in the car in 2 years?

YES.

Is it a habitual act, then?

NO.

Did it take less than 45 minutes for AAA to get there and have the door open, and were you still able to write this blog inside the coffee shop?

YES.

I rest my case against myself, your Honor. As to the seriousness of the event that elicited such self-judgment… did you set St. Andrews on fire? How much innocent (or non-innocent) loss of life resulted in your egregious act of key lockery?  Did it cause city-wide panic?  Did local authorities need to call in the National Reserve, closing down Interstate 89 –

Enough! Thank you, I feel better…

Mr. Bevacqui, you are acquitted of all self-indictment… try to remember your keys next time 🙂

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