by Denise Naughton
When I think of better endings it brings to mind human conflict. Not human conflict on a world scale, but on a personal scale—my scale. When a conversation, or e-mail goes into the toilet, I always go back and wonder how I could have changed the negative outcome. Because life is cyclical I know all opportunity will come my way again, and if I’m paying attention I’ll be able to make a better ending.
Road rage is a perfect example of getting new chances. I’m not sure what infuriates me when someone cuts me off. Is it ego, adrenaline rush which equals fear, which turns to anger? Or is it interruption to my private time or a wake up call showing me I’m not paying attention? Is it someone invading a space that isn’t mine to begin with? It could be all the above and all at the same time. Curses begin, and then I get angry with myself for getting angry with a stranger. Maybe the anonymity of being in a car and being able to yell to someone who is long gone gives me some sense of power, but ultimately it does not give me self-satisfaction with me, and it’s me I always have to answer to.
I know, though, that I will get another opportunity, and even in the same road trip, to have a better ending. If someone cuts in front of me then it must be for a reason. The driver feels safe to do this. They weren’t paying attention, they didn’t see me, and the need to be in another lane is important, and realized too late. We’ve all done it. I can give that driver a break. If I can be courteous in any other situation, then why not on the road, and have a better ending over and over again.
Of course, there are even smaller and more personal moments that need to be addressed. When an intimate friend says something that pushes a button, I react without thought—insulting, nasty, or go for an even bigger or tenderer button for that person. It’s all done in the moment but the impact is tremendous. This unhappy ending needs to be repaired immediately. How can it be done?
I once listened to a couple talk about their button moments that would come up in their relationship, and the trick that they had put together. And we all know how quickly the fire can spread when it comes to living with a person. It isn’t that they don’t have those fast and furious times, but they have now learned to take a breath and ask, literally, for a rewind. “This is what I really meant to say”. “This is why I reacted in the cruel or curt way that I did, and I’d like a rewind”. I’d like to change the words, the intent behind them, and bring in love and kindness”. I’ve been practicing that theory, and I’ve discovered that a rewind can change everything, and even prevent the negative flow from ever happening.
I’ve now applied the rewind technique to so many aspects of my life, so that no matter what I can always create a better ending.
Denise Naughton is an Author and an A.B.D., Ph.D. Candidate at Union Institute and University in Cincinnati. Her Ph.D. dissertation is on representation of penal colonists in Australian Cinema as Shadow archetype figures.
- The Road Rage Test (sourcemycar.wordpress.com)