The weather widget on my Mac Air predicted a high of 104 degrees today. I considered canceling my planned long walk to meet a friend for coffee. Did I really want to face the heat and walk home in the late morning when I would already be feeling the heat? I could easily cancel and take a 20-minute early walk and avoid the heat, but I wanted to see what I could do to stay cool when the temperature was rising.
Walking at a fast pace in 94-degree weather is not really my style. I like air conditioning and comforts over environmental challenges. I realized I’m like that in my relationships also. I don’t like conflict or confrontation. I like things cool, rational, and informative. I find relationship challenges at work, at school, and even at home. My first response has always been avoidance just the way I avoid the summer heat.
Recently I’ve been finding ways to face challenges in my relationships with a positive attitude, communication skills, and putting myself in the other person's shoes. I look for ways to make things better rather than taking things personally. This morning it was time to face the heat. I decided I would carry a cup of ice to keep myself cool. What else could I do to keep cool?
I prepared for the environment by wearing lightweight cool clothing, I got ice for the walk home. Being prepared with ice helped immensely. I walked in shade whenever possible and chose the shortest route home even though I missed my usual sites with the lake and geese. It occurred to me that my strategies for staying cool on a hot walk were a good analogy for keeping my cool in conversations to improve my relationships.
Rather then avoid conversations that might include conflict, I can be prepared by having other positive relationships, like wearing cool clothes to help immunize me against the heat. I can find shade or places where there is agreement and cool down the situation. Finally I can look for a shorter route, a different way of dealing with the situation than using past language that never worked. I can carry a cup of ice or a strategy that will help me keep cool even if the conversation starts to get heated. My cup of ice I carry with me into my relationships is a positive attitude. It has taken me years to figure out how to have a cool cup of ice with me to cool down my feelings. When I start to take things personally, I keep cool by looking at the situation from a different perspective, taking a breather in the shade, and realizing that I can revive myself from too much heat.
After my walk I rewarded myself by taking time to sit under the fan and have a Hebrew National hot dog and sauerkraut. I enjoy a cool lunch on a hot day. In my relationships I can also have little rewards for being a positive force in the relationship rather than letting myself get too hot.
60 minutes walking