I learned a valuable lesson this week and was reminded of advice I received from a boss early in my career. We may not be able to control the things that happen to us, but we most certainly can control how we react to them. And how we react, is a good indication of our emotional intelligence.
When I saw that my truck window had been smashed in and obviously not by accident, I was angry. I was angry all night about it because it caused me to miss a work event that I was looking forward to attending. I was angry because now I have to spend money to get the window replaced, and it just created an overall inconvenience and time-suck for myself and others. And frankly, it pissed me off that people do shit like this.
After sleeping on the day’s events though, I had a chance to reflect and think about what I could have done differently. Sure, I could have been more thoughtful about where I was parking, and I could have been more alert to the already broken glass on the sidewalk just feet away from where I had parked my vehicle. But it wasn’t until today, during the quiet alone time while vacuuming out the broken glass that I stopped being upset. I could have chosen a different parking spot, and maybe the outcome would have been different. Who knows, it probably would have still happened because like a knucklehead, I left a backpack on my front seat and that was clearly what they were after. In fact, I found the backpack in a nearby alley where they ditched it after realizing there was nothing of value to them in it. Additionally, because there are also good people in the world, I found my backpack after receiving a phone call from a stranger who saw my business cards all over the street and the backpack tossed under a car.
What I ultimately realized while vacuuming up the glass today, was the only thing I could have really done differently, was control my thoughts about the situation. As I was kneeling on the running board and reaching to get shards of glass out from under the seat, for some reason, I thought of that boss’s advice. I realized I could have forgiven more quickly, could have let the anger pass sooner and could have not let the inconvenience ruin my night.
Looking back, the only thing I truly lost is the time I spent being upset. I’ll never get that back. A high EQ means being able to forgive, step back from a situation and put yourself in other people’s shoes. As I was vacuuming up the broken glass, after wondering why this happened to me, I realized none of that negative story matters, and I also realized that it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post.