It’s been a beautiful summer weather-wise here in Vancouver and it has been incredibly HOT! I’ve got fans and air conditioners going at high speed, but unfortunately during certain hours of the day, the heat is so intense that they serve very little to no purpose.
Last night as I was preparing dinner, I felt incredibly warm around the kitchen. The heat coming from the stove, boiling water in the pot and oil from the frying pan added to the 31 degree Celsius apartment. The temperature was building up inside of me…I could feel it. For some reason, the gyozas (Japanese dumplings) I was frying up were sticking badly to the frying pan. They were sticking so badly that they were breaking apart into one big mess (despite pre-greasing). One of my pet peeves is when food sticks to the pan – it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, I feel frustrated and upset what should have been an easy task can turn out to be a disappointing mess.
I felt the rush of intense heat build up inside my body. Heat everywhere…and then a few F-bombs came. I started swearing and cursing, “Fuck…I hate it when these gyozas stick! Fuck!…ughh…sigh.”
Frustrated, I took the frying pan tossed out the content into the sink and cursed some more. With a metal spatula, I furiously scraped off the dumplings from the pan while running the pan under hot water. I managed to waste a dozen or so of the gyozas and ruin a frying pan in the process. While all this was happening, I was paying attention to the feelings inside my body and doing my best to prevent it from escalating even more. One of the tools I’ve learned is to pay attention to the body: it’s the early warning sign that upsetting and angry thoughts could come into mind and that’s when things can blow up. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say my body was feeling a 10 in heat. I felt heat in my head, body and tightness in my chest and shoulders.
Recognizing that, my mind slowed down and knew that my anger wasn’t going to help.
During all this, my teenage son was nearby. Observing that I was clearly frustrated and angry over preparing dinner, he kindly lent a helping hand and said, “Here, calm down…take it slowly and have some lemonade…”
He poured me a glass of ice cold lemonade and I sincerely thanked him as I took a brief refreshment break. I then apologized to him, “Sorry buddy….I’m feeling really warm and agitated by all this heat. Sorry I blew up like this…I don’t feel like myself right now.”
He continued to offer his help and I gladly accepted and acknowledged how much I appreciated it.
My take away from yesterday’s event was that, recognizing my body is vital, but taking action and doing something to slow down would be much more conducive to preparing dinner. I could have stopped what I was doing and took 30 seconds to breathe. I could have helped myself to some lemonade. I could have asked my son to watch the stove while I cooled down in the shower for 5 minutes.
Though I wasn’t perfect last night, I’m still happy that I managed to recognize my anger and not let it escalate any bigger. I didn’t let the anger take stranglehold of me and the entire event lasted for no more than one minute, whereas before, I would have held onto that feeling of disappointment and anger for a lot longer.
I still make mistakes from time to time and I completely acknowledge that (after all, I am human!) One of the things I’ve learned is to forgive myself and to learn from it. As long as I keep practicing my tools of self-awareness and take action, I have a much better chance at succeeding the next time around.
Until next time,