Why The Principle of the Matter Doesn’t Matter

The principle of the matter doesn’t really matter.

 

In a moment when someone has wronged you, it feels like it is the ONLY thing that matters, but it doesn’t.

 

What does matter?

 

Peace. In your heart. And in your life.

 

Getting to that peace is remarkably easy. And, it’s also unbelievably difficult. I know this from practicing family law for as long as I have AND from my own experiences in life.

 

 

Family Law Practice: The Early Years to Now

 

During the early years of my law practice, I sometimes didn’t think I would make it until the next day. Not because of the long hours or the hard work I was putting in. I didn’t think I would make it because of the high level of stress that divorce work demanded.

Because I hadn’t yet learned to manage the extreme emotional highs and lows I would experience alongside each and every client, there was rarely a day when I didn’t feel as though my chest would explode. Monday through Friday, I encountered an expansive range of feelings. Whether a client was meeting stress, anger, jealousy, rage, sadness, depression, overwhement or anxiety, I saw and felt those things, too.

 

It was hard. I cried nearly every single day.

 

For me, the most difficult situations were those in which a person had been “wronged” by the other. And…back then, the worst of the worst was when I was representing the person everyone knew had done the “wronging.”

 

I wanted everything to be made right. I wanted the person who had done the dirty deed to apologize and say “I’m sorry.” I wanted everyone to hold hands and sing “Kum-ba-ya.”

 

I wanted peace for everyone involved, including myself.

 

As time passed, I started to get more and more cases under my belt. Something also started happening to my heart. Just like my feet had developed callouses from spending my free time hiking Camelback Mountain, my heart started to develop a toughened shell around it. I realized if I was going to stay in this business and keep my sanity, I was going to need to buck up.

 

Now, after 15 years of practicing family law, I have developed a high threshold for extreme emotion, daily stress and frequent and ongoing criticism from pretty much everyone.

 

(Except…I don’t handle criticism from my husband that well at all. Really. Ask him what happened just this past Sunday.)

 

 

Getting Fired and How it Wrecked Me

 

Anyhow… for the most part, until recently, I thought I had my emotions completely under control. I thought I was good! Then…something happened a few weeks ago that reminded me I am an emotional, vulnerable HUMAN.

 

Over the last couple of months, my plate has been overflowing with some “special” projects. Although I was slow (not because of desire, but because of time constraints) to get fully invested in one of these projects, once I was “in,” I was really in. As it turns out, there was an aspect of one of these special projects that had been assigned to me (in part). I was excited about it.

 

To make a long story very short, I ended up getting fired from this assignment.

 

I have been fired in the past, but not often.

 

This time it was different.

 

It was different because I really cared with my whole heart about what I was just starting to work on. It was also different because the firing came out of nowhere; I didn’t see it coming. One day I was working on the assignment, then the next, I learned (via a text) that the assignment had been re-assigned to someone else.

 

It hurt me. No…it devastated me. I cried for two days. My heart was broken.

 

Once I was finished crying, I felt indescribable RAGE over a decision being made that involved ME without involving ME in that decision.

 

And…I gained a new, deeper level of appreciation for what a client goes through when decisions are made by a partner, ex-spouse or co-parent without their knowledge or involvement. Decisions like these:

 

-when one parent changes the children’s school without telling the other parent.

-when one parent doesn’t fill the parent in on a child’s special event or “challenges.”

-when one parent limits contact or communication with the kids.

-when one parent picks up and moves to another city, state or country without giving the other parent a say in the matter.

 

The “thing” that happened to me was nowhere near as serious as these situations. I cannot begin to imagine how I would feel if someone made a major decision about MY daughter without MY input. I am pretty sure I would be madder than a hatter and that I would want to seek and destroy someone.

 

 

What to Do When You’ve Been Wronged

 

So. How do you manage when someone pulls the rug out from under you in any situation in your life? I have some ideas.

 

First of all, don’t hurt anyone. Don’t immediately pick up your phone and start texting or calling the person who pissed you off. Don’t shoot off an e-mail and, for God’s sake, don’t go to their house. This also would be a good time to stay off Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.; you will be placing yourself in a tempting position to start blasting your drama all over the social media-sphere.

 

Remember to breathe. When you are somewhere other than at work or in traffic, allow yourself to cry. Feel the pain, the anger, the sadness, and the fear. Release what you need to release.

 

Next step: find a friend, family member or professional who will listen to you vent. Talk, cry or scream through what is happening. Doing this will allow you to start to process (and release) what is happening inside.

 

Come up with a strategy for dealing with things. Your strategy might be as simple as “getting away” (by taking a day off work, by taking a long drive, or by getting outside in nature) to allow yourself to continue to deal with your stress in solitude. When the time is right and you can do it using respectful, constructive communication, your strategy might include contacting the other person and standing up for yourself. If the situation demands it, you might consider consulting with a lawyer.

 

In my case, I did all of these things (except for consulting with a lawyer…unless consulting with myself counts as consulting with a lawyer).

 

Anyway, I sat in a parking lot and cried my heart out. My life coach (and husband) talked me through the drama. We took a drive out of town that next weekend to get a change of scenery (which I hoped would help me gain a fresh perspective on things). And, when I was ready, I sent a respectful and well-thought out e-mail to the person I thought had wronged me.

 

Although my heart was strained for days from all the crying I had done, the project manager and I reached a temporary understanding because the time-sensitivity of the project demanded it. I am OK with the resolution, but my (our) relationship work isn’t complete. Today, from the more rational place I sit, I see that the volatile situation was years in the making. I also see that the re-assignment was for the highest good of the project itself.

 

In other words, I had to stop hanging onto the principle of the matter to find peace in my heart and so the right thing could ultimately happen.

 

In your situation, resolution may not be swift, and it may not be easy. It will require you to listen to the other person no matter what they did or how badly you feel they wronged you. “A higher good” could require you to give up on something that is really important to you. Or…that “higher good” could require you to give it it your all and fight for what is best.

 

 

The Principle of the Matter

 

So now…getting back to the principle of the matter. If that is the ONLY thing you are fighting about, consider this:

 

The principle of the matter doesn’t really matter.

 

In a moment when someone has done something to wrong you, it feels like it is the ONLY thing that matters, but it doesn’t.

 

What does matter?

 

Peace. In your heart. And in your life.

 

Getting to that peace is remarkably easy. And, it’s also unbelievably difficult.

 

It will involve you letting go and “giving in.”

 

In a fight over principle, by opting out of the battle, you will be giving yourself the biggest prize anyone could win.

 

Peace out, my friend.

 

All my best,

-w

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