Have you ever had an argument that you remember so clearly as though it occurred yesterday? You remember where you were, what you said, what the other person said and how angry/ hurt/ offended you were in that moment. In fact, recalling back to that memory right now is making your body a little tense, you are starting to possibly hold your breath and are possibly starting to get a little upset as you think about that time. I haven’t had many arguments in my life because I hate conflict. The feeling of anger or being around someone who is angry has always scared me. People don’t think logically when they are upset, they don’t listen, they are not skilled in effective communication under conflict nor do they breathe.
In the Fall of 2014 I took a five week stand up comedy class. I never thought I would enroll in a comedy class, but my goal to be a motivational speaker, break down my walls and develop my voice led me to that class. Of all the activities we did in class, there was one that brought me to tears.
In the process of creating our (comedy) set (i.e. a routine on a topic) we were asked to think of an argument between ourselves and another person. Since I rarely argue, the argument that came to mind was an argument I had with a former boyfriend that occurred six years ago. My comedy instructor paired everyone up. I was paired with the teacher’s assistant.
The first part of the exercise, had one person from each set of pairs act out the whole argument from our point of view (POV) to our class partner who was told to guide us through the activity. As I acted out my side of the whole argument I started to feel the same anger wash over me that I felt when the argument occurred six years ago.
The next part of the activity, we were told to act out the whole argument from the other persons POV. Stepping into the perspective of my ex felt foreign. I was nervous and as I started to argue from my ex boyfriends perspective my thought that I was in the right to be upset over what we argued about years ago, came into question. I was no longer sure about my side of the argument. As the argument progressed my class partner told me to stop and see Stephanie. As I continued to argue my heart started pounding. He told me a second time and told me to pause so that me as my ex, could hear Stephanie speak in the the argument. My heart dropped and I jumped back the moment I heard my voice from my ex’s perspective.
The third level of this exercise we were asked to give the argument switching back and forth between both POVs and add a narrator to start off the argument and wrap up the outcome of the argument. After going through the exercise twice already, nothing but emotions ran through me. I started the argument from my POV as it happened in real life. When I switched to argue from my exes POV I was startled. For the first time, I could see myself clearly from my exes perspective and I realized something I never noticed this whole time. In the moment of the argument, years ago, I knew we weren’t arguing about what he made the argument about. So, I pressed the issue to get to the bottom of the argument. However, in class my understanding of that argument changed when I saw myself for the first time, from his point of view. I felt for the first time how he felt and realized in that moment that he knew he was going to loose me. My dreams were big, I was focused, and we were growing apart. I tried not to cry, as I pushed through the argument. When the activity was done, I gave into my feelings and what had deepened my understanding of that argument that occurred years ago and I cried. As I cried I startled my partner and he felt bad that he pushed me in the activity. I told him it wasn’t his fault, but that I was in the moment.
Life never really is what it seems, which is why it is important to be as mindful as you can as the present moves into the past.