I needed to stop and breathe about a thousand times yesterday what with unaware customer service reps and nasty tech glitches – my favorite hot buttons. It all began when I took my car in to be serviced first thing and learned the service rep had forgotten I needed a ride home. I had scheduled myself tightly, had all my ducks in a row (I thought), and did not allow for a thirty-minute delay, which is what the service rep's forgetfulness cost me.

When I finally got home, I learned that the provider for my email newsletter had experienced a technical glitch that deleted some long-time subscribers. Great!

I know these two hot buttons well. Whenever I don't receive the service I think I should or when technology doesn't work the way it's supposed to, I get hooked. You might think I'd be on the alert, center myself really fast, and not take the bait. But no. I guess that's why they call them hot buttons. Face red, muscles tight, arms flying into the air, blind to what is possible. It's good to know you're human.

Managing Myself First

The martial arts offer an excellent arena to practice experiencing an attack. Specifically, aikido teaches us to manage an attack by managing ourselves. Instead of resisting the attacker, aikido says to focus on your center of gravity, engage the attacker, and redirect the attack energy toward a positive outcome.

Yesterday, it seemed, the attackers were coming from all directions.

You'll be happy to know I found my way back to center. It took a bit of time and a few other self-management skills, like perspective taking (what else was going on for the auto service rep that morning?), appreciating the moment (how nice to have thirty minutes to read while waiting for my ride – I'm glad I thought to bring along that book), self-awareness (deciding not to sweat the small stuff), and gratitude (for the bigger stuff, like the health and well being of myself and those I love).

It's not what happens to us that determines who we are, it's what we do with what happens to us. Maybe next time I'll remember sooner!

Author's Bio: 

Judy Ringer is the author of Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict (http://www.unlikelyteachersbook.com) and the award-winning e-zine, Ki Moments, containing stories and practices on turning life's challenges into life teachers. Judy is a black belt in aikido and nationally known presenter, specializing in unique workshops on conflict, communication, and creating a positive work environment. She is the founder of Power & Presence Training and chief instructor of Portsmouth Aikido, Portsmouth, NH, USA. To sign up for more free tips and articles like these, visit www.JudyRinger.com