Parking Tickets and Broken Computers

Parking Tickets and Broken Computers

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If two situations can provoke rage and frustration more than most, they are: receiving a parking ticket, and when a piece of technology breaks down.

For some reason, these actions evoke puzzling levels of emotional response in us, considering that they involve inanimate objects.

I wonder how these items manage to stir up such emotion. What are they triggering in us, that is so profound? And why?

I am reminded of Victor Frankl’s words: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” I find great wisdom in this.

These days, when I am triggered (and recognise the fact), I look to find the source. Typically (but not exclusively), I will find an undigested life experience in my past that is linked to the reason why I respond in such an emotionally charged way.

I see so many people overly worried about getting a parking ticket or who are livid when they receive one. Computers used to get me very stressed and angry, trying to fix them. Why? What is it, in our past, that these events trigger? Maybe it reminds us of punishment we received as a child… Maybe it triggers a whole chain of feelings of failure and frustration. But when you recognise that, and get things in perspective, you can change how you feel. By going into past undigested life experiences, I now have a trigger list – I take note of everything that creates a response, and I process it.

When I do the work required to digest the old experience properly, I find that I no longer react the way I used to.

Remember that inanimate objects are not people. There should be no reason for us to be angry with them. It affects them in no way, and doesn’t change the outcome – our anger only affects us. This understanding opens a door onto a world of self-reflection that ultimately helps us to deal with people in a completely different way, too.

Many different therapies and approaches adopt this principle of going back in time and processing the problematic issue. It is important to find an approach that works for you, with support, as appropriate, in a safe environment, because it can open a can of worms if not conducted properly. The method of processing shouldn’t compel you to re-live the harm caused in the past; but it should enable you to re-experience it differently, for a positive outcome.

In the case of parking tickets and broken computers – personally, I laugh when such things happen to me, now. I see them as signs that I am about to make a personal breakthrough. I am fascinated by the lessons that emotional reactions to inanimate objects teach me. The more I delve into this, the more wisdom I find behind the reaction.

  • Remember a time when you were angry or upset with a ‘thing’ (rather than a person)?
  • How can you interpret this? What does it show you? (Or remind you of, from the past?)
  • What will it take for you to get to the stage of laughing in the face of something ‘bad’ (like receiving a parking ticket)?
  • How can you turn something like a computer breaking down into a ‘good’ thing?

Marc

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  1. I think it is a lack of choice which leads to such frustrations. If we truly had choice, we could avoid them. We are not built to emotionally tolerate frustrating things which are unavoidable. We have limited choice, so we have to learn to accept that many tools and systems are not effective for our needs and just accept the outcome and seek a calm and planned workaround, if possible.

  2. I got a parking ticket at 12:15am last night (in LA, where apparently no-one sleeps) and got your email this morning. Are you following me?!

  3. Yesterday I was swearing in an open office at a printer that was playing up and my wife explained that my temper adversely affected other people and asked me to think about my effect on them. Then I read this posting. I will now try laughing at tricky technology and I’m sure it will be a better response to frustrations. Thanks.

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