I was just two laps away from a mile when I heard a voice calling out in an extra-nice voice, “Ma’am, excuse me?”

I stopped swimming, took off my goggles and blinked at the man standing at the pool deck. “Our Master Class started, like, negative 30 seconds ago. So I’m going to have to move you to another lane … OK?” he said as he smiled smugly.

I looked around. There was no other lane.

 

Identifying the issue

Now I’m normally a pretty accommodating person. But there was something about this young man’s delivery (and his ignorance of my options) that grated me the wrong way.

Groomed in the ways of Tactical Thinking, I went down my mental checklist. His words weren’t the problem, I reasoned. It was his message, and his tone.

So, with a wave to acknowledge that I’d heard his words, I turned and made the decision to finish up those two laps. To heck with his Master Class.

This small incidence from earlier this evening helped me understand two things: First of all, I now have a better appreciation for resistance, and how small things can build, fester and escalate, no matter how rational each party may be. These elite swimmers were completely righteous: The pool was rightfully theirs. But this smirky, condescending instructor had me completely undone.

I was going to oppose him because he bothered me so much.

And that brings me to my second point: This really small exchange has been dogging me the rest of the evening.

 

When it won’t go away

Figuratively, I brought this insufferable young man home with me, and now I’m trying everything I can to make him go away.

This is where the following idea is so helpful: Name it, know it, own it — If I look on the bright side I now can make a clear-headed assessment and draw the conclusion that I get really angry with people like him who insinuate that I’m somehow inferior.

Now this trigger of mine has a name: Mr. Superiority.

And now that he has a name, I’m kicking him out of my house, and taking back my evening.

Kathy Mangold

 

Vistelar Group –