Sunday, May 20, 2007

Spiritual Sandpaper: Lessons Learned from People Who Rub You the Wrong Way

The other evening, right after dinner, the doorbell rang. My husband answered the door and it was a political canvasser. When he started into his spiel, my husband said, "Let me get my wife. She may know more about this."

(was that a ploy?)

I greeted the man and instantly noticed the blue tooth phone in his right ear. I don't care how far we go technologically, those things freak me out. If it's not the electromagnetic fields penetrating the brain it's the whole Cyborg look. Then he plopped down a portable bar stool and looked like he was setting up a new mobile office.

My friend Kristen had just shared her concept of Spiritual Sandpaper. These are people who come into your life to rub you the wrong way so you can learn compassion, tolerance, or just the ability to walk away with your serenity intact.

I remained very polite despite my trepidations with my doorstep guest, then discovered we did not see eye to eye on the petition he wanted me to sign. It's a hot local issue, complete with mud-slinging and expensive mail out campaigns. They were even hosting a free festival in the park with free food and entertainment. OK, so bribe my vote with hot dogs and line dancing?

He gave me a "up yours" kinda look and walked away to my neighbor's door, shouting a parting opinion of what he thinks will happen because I didn't sign his petition.

Note to the public: if the city of Anaheim, CA goes to hell in a handbasket you can thank me.

I'm feeling very Molly Ivins-ish at this point. Who woulda thunk?

Well, life dishes out its lessons to me in groups of three, so I knew 2 more challenges awaited me.

Not 24 hours later did I get an email from a guy (NOT a client) who was having a bad time with his marketing. Problem is, he didn't want to take any form of responsibility for it whatsoever. It was everyone else's fault, not his. It was a litany of bitterness, blame, and negativity. I had to step back and see underneath it all: it was about HIS fear, sense of failure, and zero humility. I just wished him well and advised him to stick with what he knows best. Hopefully he'll get busy with other things and leave me alone- the caustic whining was pretty vicious. I had to remind myself that ultimately sandpaper will smooth the surface.

And finally, to finish the list, I got a call from a friend on the East Coast who left a toxic job situation only to discover a dagger in her back. Ouch. Her replacement was far less qualified and now positioned herself as ALL THAT. Both the replacement and the former boss were making up ridiculous stories about my friend. That really bothered me and it reminded me that sometimes a whole ream of sandpaper can get at you at once.

Now let's get to the lessons learned part:

1. Spiritual sandpaper will enter your life when you least expect it. You can do like I do and try to find a pattern. For me the pattern was about me detaching. I had to detach from other people's frustration and anger and not get caught up in it.

2. Engaging in defensiveness never amounts to much. Know when to walk away, however keep your mouth shut when you walk away.

3. Stand by your friends. Believe in them but don't be afraid to ask if they had a part in anything.

4. Get rid of those blue tooth phones! You look like a freak wearing one and it's a health risk.

1 comment:

Suzanne Bird-Harris said...


Amen to everything in this post, but particularly the "get rid of those blue tooth phones!"

My ex just HAD to have one for his phone and he thinks he's super cool with it (of course, if you knew him, you'd know that he thinks he's all that and a bag of chips, anyway.) He works for United Van Lines and moves people and businesses for a living, so granted, it may actually be quite handy to not have to use your hands to answer a call when carrying boxes, furniture or a grand piano to the truck, but hello? Isn't that what voice mail is for?

I guess voice mail just isn't nearly as "cool" looking....

As for the health risk part - his lifestyle is far more dangerous to him than his Bluetooth, but a little verifiable brain damage might finally give him a good excuse...LOL

And yes, I'm sure you've surmised by now that he served as a truckload of spiritual sandpaper in my life...still does. God bless his pointy head. :)