When something goes wrong (as things tend to do. This is life, after all), I instinctually view the situation as conflict. For instance, if a perfectly lovely handyman didn’t get all the way to the edges in a few spots when he painted the ceiling…well, he must be trying to get away with something. He must be taking advantage of me. He didn’t paint the ceiling properly at me.
I immediately make it a Big Thing in my head. I have imaginary conversations in which I make valiant attempts to stand up for myself. Or I jump to the final dire consequences: small claims court, Judge Judy style.
All the while I feel victimized. And that sucks. Because victimization = powerlessness.
But, amid the chaos of my thoughts–and it’s hella chaotic up in here–somehow I managed to remember something about vengeance and attack thoughts from A Course in Miracles:
What I see is a form of vengeance.
[This] idea accurately describes the way anyone who holds attack thoughts in his mind must see the world. Having projected his anger onto the world, he sees vengeance about to strike him. His own attack is thus perceived as self defense. This becomes an increasingly vicious circle until he is willing to change how he sees. Otherwise, thoughts of attack and counter-attack will preoccupy him and people his entire world. What peace of mind is possible to him then?
(Lesson 22, Workbook for Students, ACIM)
The basic theme here: cut that shit out. Because who wants to live their life in constant battle? Not this girl.
So, I tried a different tact (in my own head, of course. All of this is going on in my own head. Apparently, I don’t need other folks to create conflict. My own brain does it for me. Rad.). I assumed best intent. I assumed that, instead of not painting the ceiling well at me the dude just needed to do a little touch-up. And that, instead of trying to get away with something, maybe he just hadn’t noticed because his head had been craned back like an open Pez Dispenser all day long paining my ceiling.
And just like that, all the fight left the situation. Because I wasn’t bringing any fight to the situation. I was just observing a lack of ceiling white paint on the edges of the–ahem–ceiling. But, let me tell you, an observation and a battle are two totally different things.
He knew, by the way. He knew he’d have to touch up the ceiling. And he did. With no complaints. No battle. And no Judge Judy involved.