My Mood: Angry. Annoyed. Frustrated. I missed trapeze practice and I am PISSED OFF. And it’s ok.
Flying Trapeze is My Sacred Sunday Ritual
A decade ago, when I started in business as a real estate broker, I gave up lazy Sundays and leisurely brunches in favor of open houses and packed days of racing around NYC. The reward for my busiest work day is Sunday evening flying trapeze practice.
Trapeze is one of my deep play activities. I nourish my body, mind, and spirit by flying through the air and defying gravity. It’s not just the flying, but also the community and connection I nourish with my trapeze friends. This is my thing. Sometimes I may be a little late, but unless I’m traveling, I rarely miss it. After almost 15 years, even my family has accepted that trapeze often comes first.
Tonight, I was headed to practice, feeling good about running on time for the first time in weeks. But all of that came to a stop when I got to the subway. The train sat in Union Square station without moving. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 … nothing. Finally an announcement informed us that there was a train ahead of us stalled in the tunnel. The L train was delayed in both directions. No time estimate on when we would be moving. 20 minutes, 30 minutes. Now I was offically late. But I persisted. Some flying is better than no flying. Eventually, another announcement came that there was an investigation in process. The announcer advised us to take another route. I continued to wait it out.
There was no other way to get there that wouldn’t take at least 30 minutes. By the time I would arrive, get my grips on and join in practice, it would be almost over. My legs were hurting from standing for so long. Just before 6:30 pm, after almost 45 minutes on a train that didn’t move, I got off the train. Resigned that I would miss practice, I headed home to eat dinner and rest.
I Didn’t Want to Rest. I Was Angry.
I walked back into my apartment, resigned and defeated. I sat down in my reading chair, stewing in anger.
Angry at the subway, and its delays. At not having more information about what was happening.
I am angry at the forces that made me leave later than I had planned. Agents who need constant hand-holding and direction to do their most basic tasks in any type of professional manner. People who in theory are there to help me but only leave me with more work to do.
I am angry that I keep taking on more jobs — most of which are really outside the scope of what I should be doing, and which I don’t get paid to do.
I’m pissed off at an industry that perpetuates the idea that I should be doing more things in the name of “client service,” and “running it like a business,” instead of reinforcing to us how we already add value and how to do less.
I’m frustrated that nobody seems to care as much as I care. I’m angry for reasons I can’t articulate. And it doesn’t even matter why. I don’t need a reason.
But most of all, and worst of all, I’m so, so, angry at myself.
Anger at Others is Anger At Ourselves
One of my mentors says that when we feel betrayed, it’s because we did not listen to our own knowing.
When I feel angry at others, I know that really I am angry at myself.
I come back to this fundamental truth. I ask myself: how did I violate my own knowing?
I betrayed myself because I know better.
I know I can’t control the subway. I know I can’t control the incompetence in my industry. I know that I need to set better boundaries in defining what is my part and what is not my part when it comes to serving my clients.
I am angry at myself for being angry at others. I know that I can’t expect from others more than they have the capacity to give.
Owning My Part
It is my responsibility to honor my own boundaries.
Ironically, today in a conversation I stood firm in my value when it was challenged by a co-broker who wanted me to agree negotiate our shared commission. I stood up for both of us and the client agreed to pay the full commission.
But when challenged by my own inner critic, by the little girl in me who said “you must do more so you can prove you are enough,” I folded.
And because I had to prove myself to be good enough, I didn’t honor my boundaries. I didn’t stop at my pre-determined hard stop time. I got caught in a major subway delay. And I missed practice.
And I’m angry. I’m angry at all the people, and at myself, and then I’m angry at myself for being angry at others. I was shooting second and third arrows at myself.
Being With the Feelings
Caught up in my anger, I wanted to get out the words. I tried to dictate a journal entry, and my iPhone kept freezing, it’s battery precariously low. In the moment when I saw myself pounding the phone with my fist to get it to respond — as though that might work — I suddenly stopped myself.
I set the phone down. No typing. No dictating. No writing. No words.
I allowed the pure emotion to come through me as I cried and wailed in my anger. The tears rolled down my face in a messy, snotty, ugly cry as I fully embraced being in all the emotions.
Frustration. Anger. Fear. Sadness. Lonliness.
Cry. Sob. Heave.
The emotion poured out of me. And suddenly I could breathe.
From the time we were born, crying has been a sign that we are alive. It is how we took our first breath outside the womb, and it is how we reconnect with our breath when we find ourselves suffocated by the weight of emotions. In every cry, it is like I am being reborn.
Finding the Stillness
And then I sat in stillness with my eyes closed and breathed through it. I stopped judging it. I stopped shooting arrows at myself. I just allowed it.
I embraced the intense emotions of all of it, everything that was there. I held space for all of it. As I have learned to do for myself over and over again.
Even just allowing myself to be angry was helpful. Not judging myself for being angry. Just being with the emotion of what I was feeling and allowing myself to go to that place.
I’m angry. I’m pissed. I’m sad. And that’s ok. I don’t even need a reason.
The Attempts to Suppress the Anger
If you do enough personal development work, eventually you learn to ask yourself certain questions to get out of anger or frustration.
How Can I Reframe This?
As I mentioned above, I felt the impulse to reframe the episode: perhaps this was a sign that my body needed to rest. After all, I was exhausted this morning when I woke up.
And that’s fair. I can certainly look at it through that lens. But it doesn’t make my anger less real or valid.
Both can be true.
To say just “it’s a sign” is a form of spiritual bypass. Maybe the Universe had a different plan for me today, but that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed or angry.
Deflecting or suppressing what you feel because you want to be all “it’s a sign from the universe” is still deflection and suppression.
Also, I recognize that some of these things are out of my control. I hear my inner critic saying “if you had been earlier, you wouldn’t have been stuck because of the delay.” Yet I also know that this isn’t true. In fact, if I had been on the previous subway, I would have been on the subway that was stuck in the tunnel, instead of on a subway parked at the Union Square Station.
What Can I Be Grateful For?
It can always be worse. So I can be grateful that I was on the subway with doors open, where I could get out.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not also able — and entitled — to be angry.
I can be all of those things. Angry. Sad. Grateful. Accepting of the sign from the universe. One doesn’t cancel out another.
Why We Must Feel the Anger
Anger isn’t pleasant. It’s not the place I like to live. But here’s the truth: anger is often what motivates us to change. Gratitude and happiness don’t catalyze change. When we learn to use our anger, we can alchemize it.
When we feel the depths of our emotions, we infuse ourselves with the courage to say this is what needs to change and the resolve to make the change.
Embracing our shadows helps us integrate all parts of ourselves. It fills the hole that we are trying to fill through all the escape mechanisms we tend to use.
So I sat there, eyes closed, breathing in all of it. Being in it. Feeling it. And knowing that tomorrow, I will be more resolved than ever in honoring my boundaries.
Because what I know more than anything else is that I am worth the commitment to myself.
So are you.