Our Mailbox Had Been Smashed – Again! Dealing with the reaction of unfairness
Last week, we went out to get the mail and found that our mailbox had been smashed and totally destroyed. What?!?! That’s the second time in about a year. I was angry and frustrated. Who had done it? They should have to deal with the consequences!
We started imagining what types of punishments would be appropriate if the perpetrators were ever caught. I was sensing that the negative emotions could easily build and carry us away on a downward spiral.
Why were we spending so much negative energy on this situation? We couldn’t change what happened. Then I remembered. This incident wasn’t fair. It felt like a personal injustice that someone would do something so wasteful and mean. And when we feel like something’s happened that’s not fair, it triggers the threat response in our brains as if we’ve been physically attacked. Our survival instincts were telling us to protect ourselves and fight back.
Realizing this was incredibly helpful for me and I was able to switch my thinking. Instead of focusing on how unfair it felt, I thought of how it was probably some group of teenage friends, out looking for something exciting and “dangerous” to do – daring each other and making bad decisions like teenagers can do. I reminded myself and my family of how most people have done something stupid when they were that age. And if we kept wasting our time and energy thinking about it, we were only hurting ourselves. I started focusing on dealing with the reaction of unfairness.
Can you remember an incident that made you mad because it seemed unfair? What thoughts were going through your head? How could you have shifted your thinking faster to avoid wasting energy on it?
Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is a motivational speaker, trainer, and founder of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping individuals and organizations increase their positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures.