The Eagle and the Wolf

Last week I wrote about trust, not having it and coming to the realisation of how important it is to find the good in people rather than always expecting the worst in them.  In the morning I woke up and I saw the label for those who dread and fear Friday 13th on one of those marketing emails that popped into my inbox and so I got on Facebook and wished everyone a Happy Friday 13th and declared to all the Paraskevidekatriaphobics that it was going to be OK.

And then…. the terrorist bombs went off in Paris.

It’s bizarre that I’d experience something to highlight how important it was to see the good in people then feel the need to reassure fearful people that everything was going to be OK, just before the bombings.  There was no way I was ever going to know such a thing was about to happen and at the same time, I  believe that there is no such thing as coincidence.

So let me tell you what happened.  The day before I’d sold something on eBay, too big to post and was meant for collection in person.  Usually the person arranges a day and time, comes to inspect the item then hands over cash and takes the item away.  Done deal.

This time was slightly different.  The person who bought the item wanted to come pick it up straight away, within the hour, kept sending his phone number.  I replied to all his messages on eBay and then also called and texted him as it was requiring more immediate attention but then I realised AFTER the fact that I’d just given this guy my phone number, address and was allowing him to come to my home late at night.  I didn’t even check if he was the person who actually bought the item before sending all the info, due to all the urgency.

On realising this, fear set in.  Tones was with me but I thought, what if this guy is crazy?  Why did I just give out all my info to a stranger?  What a stupid thing to do! Logically – of course he needed this info otherwise, how would he come to pick up the item?  And yes, he was the guy who bought the item.  But it was too late for logic, I started getting paranoid.

After I’d given him all these details, he texted to say “It’s too late now, I can’t pick this up today anymore, can I get it tomorrow?”
When I asked him to pay cash on pick up, he said he’d pay by PayPal straight away.  When I checked, he hadn’t paid.
When I wrote to say well if you haven’t paid then can you just pay cash because I’d feel better about the transaction if you did that(there is a loophole where a person can pay by PayPal, pick up the item and then call their credit card company and say they never got the item which always results in the seller having to refund. ie buyer gets item and money back, seller has nothing) he said “I already paid”.  Again when I checked, he hadn’t paid yet.  I also noticed that he wasn’t responding to any of my eBay messages, the official method of keeping things legit and recorded, but just texting.

All these little things just added to my anxiety and the next thing you know I actually was losing sleep over it.  I thought horrible things about this stranger and that he was really and truly conniving and going to rip me off and I’d just given him an extra day to plan it.  I was certain something bad was going to happen.

The next day I started asking forums what I could do to protect myself, what I should do to protect myself for future etc.  I really got my knickers in a knot and was feeling extremely open to being raughted.

And then the transaction happened.  PayPal sent me a notification of payment.  The man brought his wife with him.  They were a normal looking couple, probably same age as Tones and myself.  When I saw his wife, I breathed a sigh of relief.  There wasn’t anything about her that looked shifty at all.  She was very calm and genuinely interested in seeing the item.  He however looked really agitated and on guard, answering questions like “How are you?” really abruptly and looking really shifty.  He wanted to check everything (which is fine and expected) and then he took the item and went on his way.

His behaviour made me uncomfortable.  Why did he look so agitated?  Everything seemed to go OK and I’d calmed down a lot on seeing them so why did he still have so much anxiety?  That’s when I realised that it was me.  I was so scared and fearful the day before that I freaked him out.  He probably thought all my requests for cash etc were because I was in some way going to rip him off.  I didn’t trust him and it resulted in him not trusting me.  He probably thought all sorts of things like it would work but then break by the time he got it home and I bet he brought his wife for safety in case he’d enter our home and  never find his way out, at least one of them can run and call for help!

I realised the ridiculousness of the situation. Can you imagine what the world would be like if we were all thinking that way of each other all the time?  Every man for himself, cut throat, watch your back kind of drama?  We’d be constantly living in fear and paranoia!

So you know what I did?  I apologised.  I wrote to him after he’d left and apologised if anything I did may have caused him to feel uncomfortable in any way.  I didn’t know if this was the problem at all but I wanted to reassure him that he already has the item, that he can see it’s in really good condition and there was never any malicious intent for anything I did.  I thanked him for coming and picking up the item and then wished him and his wife well.

I also let the thoughts that he’d call and take his money back, go.. I let the fear go and instead focussed on making sure that he was just calm and happy with the transaction.  I focussed on having gratitude.  He responded with “Thank you, you are lovely people” and then left me a 5 star feedback.

That’s why I wrote my blog last week.  It was a little event but a massive lesson.

All my anxiety, worry and distrust (all variations of fear) for nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  And the worst part is that I impacted someone else just as significantly and negatively, when it was totally unnecessary.

All I needed to think about was how grateful I was for selling the item, receiving money for it and helping someone get what they wanted and making sure they felt safe enough to trust that everything was going to be OK.

Instead I settled on the drama.  It’s easy to think badly of people all the time.  It’s easy to get involved in the drama and distrust everyone.  It’s really easy to blame others, think of yourself, get offended by what another person thinks of you, get angry at a system’s inefficiency to protect you adequately and then react with fear or anger because you hate feeling so vulnerable.

It is easier to do that than it is to trust, love, have faith, be vulnerable and be more concerned about the welfare of others and how your thoughts and actions impact them…

How could it not be when we’ve experienced so much pain, hurt and suffering under the hands of those we loved and trusted to keep us safe and protected, at a time when we were vulnerable?

What I learned that day was that we all impact each other with our thoughts and emotions, more than we know.

Trust or no trust, it’s never just us that goes through something, it always starts a little chain reaction.  First it’s me, then it’s the guy, then Tones and then the guy’s wife, then their families, friends,  it’s on the forums, on the blogs, then we find others who think the same and we fuel the fire and it just keeps on going through space AND time.  Those blogs I read were written years ago and still I was feeding my fear with them.

The thing is, for any thoughts and emotions, their effects just flow and the flow is indiscriminate of whether it has a positive or negative impact.  Who chooses how it affects us?  We do. Who is responsible for how it’s going to affect others?  We are.  Who chooses whether to start, end or continue the flow?  We do.

The Paris bombings were meant to instil fear and I’ve seen a lot of people go there.  The anger, the hate, offending people and pushing their own agendas.  It’s all there.  I’ve also seen love, support and people doing things to make others feel better.

Where things look out of control, we need to feel a sense of control.  At a time of uncertainty, we do need to feel safe and to know that everything’s going to be OK.  When we don’t feel that, we turn to fear.

None of us knows what the future will bring but each and every one of us has lived through pain and hardship and come out OK.   We have it in us to know with certainty that everything always works out for the best so why choose fear?

That lesson I learned last week wasn’t just about trust, it was a reminder to be mindful of how we impact others.  It wasn’t coincidence, it was timely.  Each and every one of us will impact each other and the future with our thoughts, emotions and actions.  This is the time to be very aware of our own intentions.

Whether we choose fear or love is in our control.

“There is a great battle that rages inside me.

One side is the soaring eagle. Everything the eagle stands for is good and true and beautiful, and it soars above the clouds. Even though it dips down into the valleys, it lays its eggs on the mountaintops.

The other side of me is the howling wolf. And that raging, howling wolf represents the worst that’s in me. He eats upon my downfalls and justifies himself by his presence in the pack.

Who wins this great battle?

The one I feed.”  ~author unknown

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